The labour minister says Covid-19 vaccinations for company employees under the Social Security Office will likely resume on Monday, a day after the office announced it would delay the jabs until June 28.
The change is the latest in a series of policy U-turns and contradictions by authorities that the public has become familiar with since vaccinations began a few months ago.
Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin said on Saturday that Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon was worried about corporate employees and aware of their need to be immunised quickly.
“He told me to fix the two problems fast,” Mr Suchart said, referring to two obstacles cited earlier as the reasons for suspending the service.
They were poor ventilation at some vaccination stations and inconsistencies in the lists of eligible people submitted by companies, as well as no-shows.
To address the issues, Mr Suchart said some stations would be merged and the SSO would instruct companies to revise and then resubmit their lists.
“Vaccinations will resume for companies that are ready starting Monday,” he said. “I would like to emphasise that there is no shortage of AstraZeneca vaccine. The deputy prime minister, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul and I have worked closely.”
The SSO announced on Friday that it would suspend vaccinations for employees until June 28 at its 45 stations because of the two problems cited. As many as 11 million workers who are members of the fund are eligible to receive the vaccines.
Thai media reported health workers at the stations told them on that day they did not have enough vaccines.
Mr Anutin had said his ministry had distributed vaccines based on the plan developed by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), under which the SSO would get 1 million doses of AstraZeneca.
He reassured the public that people need not worry about shortages since AstraZeneca was contracted to make weekly deliveries to the Thai government.
AstraZeneca vaccine is being manufactured locally by Siam Bioscience, a company that has never made vaccines before and reportedly has been struggling to meet its obligations, which include supplying other countries in the region.
“The fact that AstraZeneca vaccine is supposed to be sent to other Asean nations is a good thing. It’s our pride that locally produced shots can help other countries,” Mr Anutin said.
Last week, the Philippines, Malaysia and Taiwan complained their AstraZeneca deliveries were delayed. Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen even said Thailand was prioritising for itself the locally produced shots because of the severity of the pandemic in the country.
The Thai government has stressed that its vaccine supply contract is with AstraZeneca while Siam Bioscience is just one of many contract manufacturers, so it is the European drugmaker’s responsibility to deliver the agreed amounts on schedule, regardless of where in the world they are made.