Government aims to double booster shot rate for elderly ahead of Songkran

Government aims to double booster shot rate for elderly ahead of Songkran

A nurse checks the oxygen level of a senior citizen before vaccination. The elderly group is a main target for booster shots ahead of the Songkran festival. (Photo: 
Arnun Chonmahatrakool)
A nurse checks the oxygen level of a senior citizen before vaccination. The elderly group is a main target for booster shots ahead of the Songkran festival. (Photo: Arnun Chonmahatrakool)

An ambitious vaccination campaign for the elderly will be rolled out later this month to prevent a surge in Covid-19 cases during the Songkran festival in mid-April.

Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration assistant spokeswoman Sumanee Wacharasin, said on Thursday authorities will pool resources to encourage people over 60 to receive a booster shot to help maintain high levels of immunity ahead of the Thai New Year holiday.

From March 21-31, the campaign will aim to get around 70% of the elderly vaccinated against the coronavirus, she said.

"The communicable disease committees in all provinces have to map out a proactive plan to check people who have yet to receive a booster shot and ask them to get vaccinated as soon as possible," said Dr Sumanee, who is an official of the Department of Disease Control.

Thailand has 12 million senior citizens and only 4 million of them, or 31%, have the third dose of the vaccine, according to Public Health Ministry data up to Wednesday.

The nationwide campaign is aimed at preventing more Covid-related deaths among the elderly, as many people plan to return home for a family reunion to celebrate Songkran.

Close contact with infected people has been identified by the ministry as a major risk factor leading to deaths.

Elderly people make up a vast majority of the fatalities associated with Covid-19, as the number of deaths has risen to new highs since the outbreak of the Omicron variant this year.

Thailand reported 74 deaths on Thursday, 73% of them aged 60 and above.

Getting at least two doses of Covid-19 vaccine can greatly reduce the risk of serious illness or death of the elderly and those with chronic diseases, according to the ministry.

The country will have a five-day break during Songkran this year, running from Wednesday, April 13, through Sunday, April 17. 

The government has promised that no lockdown will be imposed during Songkran to give people time to celebrate. However, health and safety measures will remain in place to prevent a spike in infections.


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