Youngest children to get Covid jabs

Youngest children to get Covid jabs

Health ministry says vaccination of youngsters aged 6 months to 4 years will start next week

A young child is vaccinated against Covid-19 in Nonthaburi province in August 2022. (Photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)
A young child is vaccinated against Covid-19 in Nonthaburi province in August 2022. (Photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

The Ministry of Public Health will inoculate young children aged six months to four years old with the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine starting next Wednesday.

Pfizer is the only vaccine approved by the Thai Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for children in this age group, said Dr Opas Kankawinpong, the ministry’s permanent secretary.

He 3 million Pfizer doses arrived on Thursday and the initial target is for one million, out of a total of 3 million age-appropriate children, to be vaccinated. An additional order will be procured if there is more demand, he said.

Dr Opas said a campaign to raise awareness among parents will begin at Pranangklao Hospital in Nonthaburi, with Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul presiding, on Oct 12.

Covid-19 vaccination in Thailand has been quite a success with 143 million doses given to people of all ages. Among children aged 5-11 years old, 3.3 million have received their first shot and 2.8 million their second shot. Another 3.8 million doses were given to children aged 12-17 years.

Out of the total eligible population, 82% have received at least one dose, 76.9% have received at least two doses and about 46% have received at least three doses.

“I would like to invite parents to take their young kids to get the vaccine next week,” said Dr Opas. “The practice of vaccination is conducted under the College of Paediatricians of Thailand, so the vaccine is safe for them.

Children in other age groups should likewise get booster shots to help prevent infections and severe conditions.

Dr Opas said that all people should consider getting a booster every four months even though the Covid situation has improved. On Oct 1 the government downgraded it to a communicable disease under surveillance and stopped publicly reporting daily infection and hospital admission totals.

Dr Tares Krasanairawiwong, chief of the Department of Disease Control, said the Department of Medical Science would carry out quality control checks on the Pfizer vaccine being used on children aged six months to four years before it is distributed to hospitals.

He said the department has provided a guideline for vaccine administration of 0.2 millilitres per shot. Vaccination requires three shots with the first two given four weeks apart. The third shot is given at least eight weeks after the second shot, he said.

According to the department, the death toll for young children aged six months to four years caused by Covid-19 infections was three times higher than for children in other age groups. The department expects the vaccine will reduce fatalities, he said, adding that a US study found that the vaccine is safe for this age group, with fewer side effects compared with other groups.

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