Jab drive set to pick up as more doses due to arrive
Two million doses of mRNA Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer will arrive on Sept 29, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said yesterday, saying the jabs will be used mainly to inoculate children over the age of 12 next month.
Mr Anutin said he has received confirmation from Pfizer that the company is ready to begin delivering the 30 million doses of mRNA-based Covid vaccines Thailand had ordered -- with the first two million doses expected to arrive on Sept 29.
"Our main target is children 12 years and up who have now been recommended to begin receiving this brand of vaccine by the Thai FDA," Mr Anutin said.
The ministry had previously said parents must give their consent to have their child vaccinated against Covid-19.
The US government had donated 1.5 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine to Thailand, which were allocated to medical staff, frontline workers, people living with chronic diseases and at-risk groups under criteria set out by the Department of Disease Control.
He further said it will also be used as a booster vaccine for some of those who have received two doses of Sinovac, as subsequent studies have indicated that the Chinese-made inactivated vaccine's protective capacity fades faster than some of the other formulas on the market, especially when faced with the presently dominant Delta variant.
However, he added that AstraZeneca vaccine recipients who have completed their course are unlikely to receive a booster jab this year, as the immunity conferred by the vaccine lasts longer.
As such, he added, they are likely to get their booster jabs early next year.
When asked about the progress of the national inoculation drive, Mr Anutin said he was confident that the government will be able to vaccinate 70% of the population by the end of the year, due to the number of shipments which are expected to arrive between now and December.
These include 15.3 million doses which will arrive throughout September, 24 million in October, and 23 million in November and December, respectively. In total, 124 million doses of Covid vaccines will be provided throughout this year.
In related news, the ministry announced it is going to launch a campaign of "one month, one hundred thousand cases" to allay pregnant women's fears that immunisation may harm their unborn babies.
The ministry said that vaccination during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy may also confer their children immunity against Covid-19.