Ministries race to vaccinate factories amid shortage
The Labour and Industry ministries are racing against time to vaccinate employees, including factory workers, amid a shortage of jabs as Covid-19 threatens to slow activity in the industrial sector if infections spread.
The Labour Ministry, which started administering jabs to employees under Section 33 of the Social Security Act on June 7, plans to finish vaccination for more than 2.46 million employees in Bangkok this month.
Whether the effort will be successful depends on vaccine supplies, acknowledged the ministry.
Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin said the government needs to use vaccines to control disease transmissions in Bangkok, which has the most cases in the country.
Of 2,290 new cases reported by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) yesterday, 942 were in Bangkok.
Factory workers need protection because "the industrial sector makes a significant contribution to the country's exports and GDP," said Mr Suchart.
His ministry expects to vaccinate another 2.27 million employees in July. These employees are in 11 provinces rated as having a high risk for infections. The provinces include Samut Sakhon, Chiang Mai, Pathum Thani, Samut Prakan, Phetchaburi and Nakhon Pathom.
In August, the ministry projects to vaccinate its final group of employees, some 1.48 million people.
There are 3.3 million workers in 64,000 factories under the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IEAT) and the Industrial Works Department, according to Industry Minister Suriya Jungrungreangkit.
The Industry Ministry has prepared 27 vaccination venues for factory workers. Provincial governors have approved six venues: Sinsakhon Industrial Estate, Samut Sakhon Industrial Estate, Amata City Chonburi, Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate, Bangkadi Industrial Park and Mae Moh power plant.
"The ministry is waiting for CCSA to approve the other 21 venues," said Mr Suriya.
Veeris Ammarapala, governor of IEAT, expects to start vaccination for 677,619 factory workers under Section 33 in eight industrial estates on July 1.
Supant Mongkolsuthree, chairman of the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI), said the group plans to distribute vaccines to 300,000 workers at companies that are FTI members on July 25. FTI wants to buy Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccines from Chulabhorn Royal Academy.