DOH starts free flu vaccination for elderly

The China Post

September 23, 2003 

A nationwide free vaccination campaign against influenza for the aged, sponsored by the Department of Health (DOH), kicked off yesterday with hundreds of elderly citizens queuing up for their turns to get a shot at every public hospital.

The campaign lasts until November 15.

Only people 65 years old or older are beneficiaries, but anti-flu shots are not exactly free.

The DOH provides vaccines free. "We have 1.64 million vaccine shots distributed across the nation," a spokesman said.

Any old man or woman who receives a vaccination has to pay a registration fee as well as that for injection. The fees vary from hospital to hospital.

Should one go to the renowned National Taiwan University Hospital, one would have to pay NT$100 for registration and another NT$50 for vaccination.

A shot costs NT$300, which in the case of an elderly citizen is prepaid by the DOH.

Anybody below that old age has to pay for a vaccination that may cost him from NT$500 to NT$700, depending on where he gets the shot.

The most popular hospital among the aged desiring to get vaccinated was the Taipei Veterans General Hospital (TVGH) at Shihpai.

"We vaccinated more than 1,600 old senior citizens in the morning," said a TVGH spokesman. Most of them had to wait for four hours before their turn came up.

The Taipei Medical University Hospital (TMUH) wanted to start sending vaccination teams to any setups where there are at least 20 people who wanted to be vaccinated. The out-of-hospital service is not free.

The DOH, however, aborted the TMUH plan. "We want to make sure all the aged get vaccinated first, and the hospital may offer the service later," a spokesman said.

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