Thursday, January 6, 2022

How to get a booster shot in Taipei and across Taiwan (updated!)

If you get your booster at NTUH, this is the lovely building you get to see from the back as you exit

Update 1/7/2022: Boosters are now available for those who got their 2nd shot three months ago, down from five. Get your boosters!

Update #2: Here's where you can look for booster access anywhere in Taiwan (though the site seems somewhat overloaded at the moment)

Look, you guys. Omicron is coming.
We're seeing small but concerning clusters: daily domestic cases are not zero, some of which are Omicron. And with Omicron, "not zero" should be enough to concern everyone.

You don't need me to tell you this. You also don't need me to point out the statistics: while 80% of people in Taiwan have received a first dose vaccine, we're not quite at 70% for 2nd dose. Although booster shots are available if you got your second dose five months ago, actual recipients are extremely low (about half a percent). Numbers of elderly getting 1st or 2nd doses does seem to have ticked up since the last time I checked, but I'm not loving all those numbers that are below the national average, among elderly residents.

I'm not totally disheartened by these numbers, but I don't feel super confident either. Lower vaccination rates among the elderly is going to be a problem: even the CECC is saying so. To combat Omicron, more people need to get boosters, and they're not doing so. It's great that we've hit 80% for the first dose, but telling that this hasn't come with a corresponding relaxation of border controls. Remember when the government mulled relaxing border restrictions when full vaccination hit 60%? Well, it has. The border remains shut due to Omicron.

(Not that I'm screaming for relaxed border controls, I'm simply observing.) 

I could whine about this all day, but I hate feeling helpless, and whining does exactly that. 

When I learned one could get a booster after five (now three) months -- and then did the math and realized my five months had passed -- I had to turn to social media to figure out how to do so. I'm writing this now so that you don't have to ask around as I did.

Update: this CDC site will give you info for all of Taiwan, but it's somewhat slow at the moment. 

I used this site, sent by a friend -- it's a list of hospitals in Taipei offering booster shots. As I got my first two at National Taiwan University Hospital. You do have to choose a hospital, check "third dose" and see what appointments are available.

Now, the city government has a booking site, which you can access here. I haven't used it, but it appears you can check your status by entering your ID number. From there, I suppose it takes you where you need to go. 

Unfortunately, none of this is easy to do in English, but I checked and the automatic translations are, well, readable. I'm happy I don't need them, but you can figure out what you need with them.

If you were a self-payer like me, you're probably eligible for a booster now. If not, figure out when your three months are up now. If there are elderly people in your life who need help to get their dose, help them now. I've heard some are avoiding it because they're afraid their bodies can't "handle" the vaccine: let them know that in fact, older people seem to react less to the vaccine, but tend to have more complications from COVID. 

Then, go get your digital vaccine certificate, which can be done here. They seem to have worked out the formatting issues for foreigners.

I don't mean to sound alarmist but this is coming, and will probably hit Taiwan despite the country's overall stellar track record. Be ready for that, and get your booster if you can.

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