'No need to halt' boosters for Sinovac
Anutin insists there are enough vaccines
There currently is no reason for not giving a booster dose to someone already fully inoculated with the Sinovac vaccine, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul has said.
Mr Anutin was reacting to a complaint that the booster dose isn't necessary because many people have yet to even receive the first dose. Mr Anutin said he was unhappy with a Department of Disease Control's (DDC) report that some of its advisers suggested that the booster dose is not necessary now for two-dose inactivated Sinovac vaccine recipient because the limited number of vaccines should be given to non-vaccine recipients first.
"If there are any questions, please tell them that this is the minister's order. I have seen no reason for not giving them the booster vaccine," Mr Anutin said.
"All Thai people must get a vaccine if they want to get it. We have enough vaccines for all in need. Moreover, I don't want to see this group [those who received two doses of Sinovac] losing the chance to protect themselves from the outbreak," he told his nationwide public health officials at a teleconference focused on the ministry's policies for next year.
Around ten million people have received two doses of the Sinovac vaccine since early this year. The Sinovac vaccine is an inactivated vaccine known to have less capacity to fight against the dominated Delta variant, so it's now advised that a booster dose is required, largely from AstraZeneca, to increase immunity.
The DDC said that the last lot of Sinovac will be sent to hospitals this week from a total of 31.5 million doses shipped to the country since February.
Thailand is expected to get 152.9 million vaccine doses this year, of which 62.9 million doses are from AstraZeneca and 31.5 million doses are from Pfizer. On Monday, the ministry also received 470,000 doses of AstraZeneca provided by the South Korean government.
Based on the department's information, it is believed that 85% of the population will have had the first dose of a vaccine by the year's end. Some 70% will be considered fully inoculated.
Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, the department's chief, said next month the ministry is switching to an AstraZeneca and Pfizer mixed-use vaccine strategy which many international studies have confirmed is a safe measure.
Dr Opas said that the department is going to speed up vaccination to cover the majority in each province, especially senior citizens, people living with chronic diseases and three-month pregnant women so to reduce critical illness and death cases.
"We're doing our best to provide the vaccines under the government's policy to reopen the country, especially in the blue zones for tourism, which need an additional 700,000 doses of vaccine to reach set targets," he said while adding that lockdowns will still be necessary but only in areas where outbreaks occur.