The government has set three phases of Covid-19 vaccination for citizens, with the first phase to cover 1 million people in vulnerable groups from February to April, the chief of the Disease Control Department said on Thursday.
Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, the director-general, said the first phase would involve 2 million doses, and be used to reduce the rate of severe illness and death from Covid-19 and to maintain the national health system.
The 2-million-dose vaccination was set from February to April. It would be for 80,000 medical personnel and health volunteers, 20,000 disease control workers, 900,000 people aged 60 and over, and people with chronic diseases.
The first recipients would be in Samut Sakhon province, greater Bangkok and the eastern provinces of Chon Buri, Rayong, Chanthaburi and Trat, which had high levels of infection and had been declared maximum control zones, he said.
People with chronic disease who may otherwise die after Covid-19 infection included those with severe respiratory illnesses such chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma, cardiovascular disease, renal failure of stage 5 and over, stroke, diabetes and all kinds of cancer.
Medical personnel to be vaccinated were those likely to be in contact with Covid-19 patients. Disease control workers included officials at border checkpoints, disease control areas along the border and field hospitals.
The second phase would involve 26 million doses to be given to people in vulnerable groups nationwide in May and June, to protect the national economy, society and security.
The third phase, set for later this year to early next year, would involve vaccinating enough of the general population to develop herd immunity and stop the spread of Covid-19 at community level.
Each person would need two doses, four weeks apart. It would take 1-2 months for the vaccine to have full effect, Dr Opas said.
He also said that new Covid-19 cases were tending to slow down, while recoveries were increasing.
Covid-19 had spread in 56 provinces, most of them with1-2 patients, and 10% of people in close contact with patients also tested positive. Covid-19 could be controlled in the majority of the provinces, he said.
Of 5,381 Covid-19 patients recorded in the second wave since Dec 15, the majority were in Samut Sakhon (2,905), followed by 1,523 in the eastern provinces of Chon Buri, Chanthaburi and Trat, and 473 in Bangkok.
Covid-19 was mainly spreading in the Central Plain, the East and the West: Samut Sakhon, Chon Buri, Rayong, Chanthaburi, Trat, greater Bangkok, the disease control chief said.