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Taiwan premier gets AstraZeneca COVID-19 shot as island starts vaccine campaign

Taiwan premier gets AstraZeneca COVID-19 shot as island starts vaccine campaign

Taiwanese people wear face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus in Taipei, Mar 20, 2021. (Photo: AP/Chiang Ying-ying)

TAIPEI: Taiwan Premier Su Tseng-chang received the AstraZeneca COVID-19 shot on Monday (Mar 22) as the island began its vaccination campaign.

"I have just finished getting the injection, there is no pain at the injection site, and there is no soreness of the body," Su told reporters at a Taipei hospital.

"The doctor told me to more drink boiled water and rest a bit. The first point I'll follow, and the second point may be more difficult. But I'll still try to rest as much as possible," he added.

READ: Singapore and Taiwan in talks about possible travel bubble: Reports

More than a dozen European countries suspended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine last week amid concerns about its safety after reports of a small number of blood disorders. The World Health Organization's European director said on Thursday the benefits of the shot far outweigh any risks, and its widespread use resumed on Friday.

Taiwan's first vaccines - 117,000 doses of the AstraZeneca shot - arrived on the island earlier this month from a South Korean factory.

Health Minister Chen Shih-chung was also vaccinated at the same hospital as the premier, and was seen laughing and chatting with medical personnel in government-released footage of him getting the shot.

READ: EU, UK drug regulators rally behind AstraZeneca vaccine after safety concerns

Around 60,000 people are in line to get the first vaccinations and Taiwan is prioritising health workers.

The first vaccine for a health worker was given at a hospital in New Taipei city, next to the capital Taipei, Taiwan media reported.

In December, Taiwan said it had agreed to buy almost 20 million vaccine doses, including 10 million from AstraZeneca.

READ: Taiwan grants emergency authorisation for AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

Taiwan's government has played down concerns about the late start to the vaccination programme, saying that with such a low case rate there is not the urgency that exists in other countries where the pandemic remains rampant.

Only 33 people remain in hospital being treated for COVID-19 in Taiwan. The island has kept the pandemic well under control thanks to early and effective prevention, including largely closing its borders.

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Source: Reuters/dv

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