Pneumonia Listed as 3rd Highest National Cause of Death in 2016, Taiwan CDC Urges Severe Illness High-Risk Groups to Strengthen Protective Measures for Influenza and Streptococcus Pneumoniae Infection to Reduce the Risk of Death

  • Data Source:Centers for Disease Control, Ministry of Health and Welfare
  • Created:2017-06-19
  • Last Updated:2017-06-27

Statistics for the cause of death of Taiwan citizens in 2016 were released today (June 19) by the Statistics Section of the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW). The data showed that a total of 12,212 people died of pneumonia (J12-J18) last year. Among these people, 90% were aged 65 or above, which is an increase of 1,451 or 13.5% from the previous year (2015). The ranking of pneumonia as a cause of death went up one place and became the third highest. The number of influenza deaths (J10-J11), on the other hand, was 578.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that the outbreak of influenza in Taiwan earlier last year was more widespread than in previous years. The number of deaths caused by severe illness had reached 431, 1.9 times more than the 147 in the previous year, and was the highest in the last 5 years. In addition to the impact of the massive cold front in late January and the aging population, many believed that the rise of the number of deaths from pneumonia could also be attributed to the influenza epidemic earlier last year. Other potential risk factors for pneumonia led deaths include chronic diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease, asthma, and diabetes.

For the prevention of pneumonia deaths caused by infections, the CDC targeted people belonging to high-risk groups and highly infectious groups for severe illness to implement the annual influenza and streptococcus pneumoniae vaccination program. It also increased the number of publicly-funded influenza vaccines from 3 million doses in previous years to 6 million doses in October last year. The newly added vaccination targets include: high-risk chronic disease patients aged under 50, people with high BMI, women under 6 months postpartum, adults aged between 50 and 64, middle school students, high school and vocational school students, and the first- to third- year students of five-year junior colleges. During the epidemic season, publicly-funded influenza antiviral drugs were given to high-risk groups for severe illnesses, and the targeted groups were expanded depending on the epidemic situation.

To reduce the possible impact of the epidemic, the CDC also specified the principles of distributing and managing publicly-funded influenza antiviral drugs, setting up national distribution points of the publicly-funded drugs, broadening their application targets during the influenza epidemic season, and continuously strengthening the active and passive monitoring system of diseases to control the epidemic situation and ensure public health.

The most effective way to prevent the health hazards of severe illnesses caused by influenza and streptococcus pneumoniae infection is to receive vaccination. The CDC called on the public who are qualified for publicly-funded vaccination to receive regular vaccination at contracted hospitals or medical institutions every year. The MOHW's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) also recommended that people over 65 years of age who had not been vaccinated against streptococcus pneumoniae should receive vaccination at their own expense to obtain adequate protection. In case pneumonia-like symptoms such as fever, chills, chest pain, cough, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing appear, please be sure to seek medical treatment as soon as possible to avoid the occurrence of severe illness or death. For more information, please visit the website of the CDC ( or by calling the toll-free epidemic prevention hotline (+866-800-001922).