• By Shelley Shan / Staff Reporter

Nearly 73% of travelers participating in a pilot vaccination program in Guam are 49 years of age or younger, with most choosing to be vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech, Lion Travel said yesterday.

The American territory has launched the Air Vaccination and Vacation program to boost its tourism sector.

Although travel agencies in Taiwan are prohibited from arranging overseas trips during the COVID-19 pandemic, they are allowed to arrange flights and accommodation.

Photo: Yao Kai-shiou, Taipei Times

Although the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) has not banned people from traveling abroad to get vaccinated, since Friday last week, it has required all people arriving from abroad to be tested for polymerase chain reaction and be quarantined for 14 days upon arrival to prevent the spread of the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2.

Lion Travel’s first vaccine tour group left for Guam at 9am yesterday, as did groups with other travel companies.

The EVA Airways charter flight carried 164 passengers.

It was the airline’s first passenger flight to US territory since 2017.

Lion Travel chief executive Andy Yu (游國珍) said the largest age groups among those on the first flight were 20-29 and 40-49, each accounting for 21.1% of travelers .

Nearly 73% of them are 49 or younger, Yu said.

“We believe they flew because they are not part of the CECC vaccination priority groups and want to receive the vaccine as soon as possible, given the outbreak of COVID-19 in Taiwan,” he said. “Some of them need to get vaccinated, as they frequently travel abroad on business.”

Thirty-eight percent of Lion Travel’s group requested the Moderna vaccine, 34 percent chose Pfizer-BioNTech, 23 percent requested the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and 3 percent did not get the vaccine for the trip, Lion Travel said.

Messenger RNA vaccines would offer stronger protection against COVID-19 variants, the travel company said when asked why most travelers preferred to be vaccinated with a regimen requiring two shots.

The preference for Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech drove sales for a 22-day package, with 80% of spots in the first of those packages being filled, he said.

Lion Travel also offers five- and seven-day packages, he added.

All 439 spots on his five-day packages to Guam have been booked, he said.

Yesterday, 300 people signed up for seven-day packages, Lion Travel said.

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