S33 workers get jab first
U-turn on walk-in vaccines angers MPs
Employees under Section 33 of the Social Security Act and people living in nine provinces considered important economic areas of the country will be given priority in the vaccination drive against Covid-19, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha says.
Gen Prayut posted details of the government's vaccination programme on his Facebook page, a day after putting the brake on walk-in services for Covid-19 vaccinations to prevent people flocking to the inoculation sites and becoming upset if they failed to secure a jab.
Instead, the prime minister wanted a new vaccination format such as on-site registration and on Wednesday proposed this new measure. Previously, the government said the elderly and sick would get first priority. It's unclear where they stand under the new policy.
Gen Prayut said Section 33 workers, mainly those who work in offices, are considered an important driving force of the economy, while many now have a high risk of contracting the virus, given the nature of their work that involves handling a large number of customers.
According to the Labour Ministry, there are about 11 million employees covered by Section 33.
The Labour Ministry, the Finance Ministry and other private partners will kick start the Covid-19 vaccination programme designed specifically for these workers from next month, he said.
The PM said he had emphasised that the vaccination drive should be implemented quickly, with the main focus placed on workers in the manufacturing and service sectors.
"The Social Security Office will coordinate registration for this vaccination programme by asking all companies to submit information about their employees who want to get jabs under this programme," Gen Prayut said.
Next in line to receive the vaccine after this group will be people living in nine economic provinces, he said.
However, the prime minister did not disclose the names of the provinces on his Facebook page.
Meanwhile, the premier's U-turn on a plan to allow a walk-in services under the Covid-19 vaccination drive has provoked a furious reaction by a young spokesman of the Bhumjaithai Party, a key coalition partner that proposed the vaccination service option.
Proposed by Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul and discussed during a cabinet meeting last week, the walk-in vaccination service plan was suspended by Gen Prayut on Tuesday.
That was after Mr Anutin, leader of Bhumjaithai, and Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob, also of Bhumjaithai, announced on the weekend the walk-in vaccination service was due to begin on June 1, with Bang Sue Grand Station chosen to be the capital's vaccination hub.
Party spokesman Paradorn Prissanananthakul took to Facebook to vent his anger over Gen Prayut's decision to suddenly shelve the walk-in vaccination service plan.
Mr Paradorn, a Bhumjaithai MP for Ang Thong, called Gen Prayut "stubborn", saying he was wondering "how on earth the government's target to get 50 million people vaccinated would ever be achieved".
"If you only stick with that Mor Prom app, the people will be dying. Will you ever understand this, uncle?" wrote Mr Paradorn.
He insisted the walk-in vaccination service isn't complicated.
Those who have to go home without getting a jab after vaccine stocks run out at the end of the day can come back again the following day, he said.