City to Offer Seniors Free Pneumococcal Vaccination Starting October
Mayor Ko Wen-je announced in a press conference on September 27 that Taipei citizens aged 65 or older will be eligible to receive a pneumococcal vaccine starting October 1, 2017.The service, subsidized by the city government and provided at partnering hospitals and medical institutes across the city, is accessible only to individuals domiciled in Taipei and who have never received inoculation against pneumococcus. According to Ko, statistics indicate that pneumonia has become the third leading cause of death in Taiwan – Taipei alone reported 1,200 deaths due to the disease in 2016, over 95% of whom were residents aged 65 years or older. The pneumonia mortality rate is much higher for the elderly compared to younger age group, the mayor pointed out.Ko stressed that immunization not only prevents people from contracting pneumococcal disease, but also helps avoid complications – for example sepsis or meningitis. He also suggested that seniors get influenza vaccination, as the flu is a common precursor to pneumonia. Department of Health added that the city government has procured 26,695 pneumococcal vaccines on a budget of NT$190 million for the program running from October through December. The measure is expected to increase the vaccination coverage to 26% for elder people aged 65 to 74 by the end of this year.