Health officials to hand out seasonal boosters
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Health officials to hand out seasonal boosters

A nurse prepares a Covid-19 vaccine shot in Samut Prakan province this month. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)
A nurse prepares a Covid-19 vaccine shot in Samut Prakan province this month. (Photo: Somchai Poomlard)

The Public Health Ministry wants this year to be the first in which people are given annual Covid-19 booster shots, similar to the seasonal flu vaccine.

Deputy government spokeswoman Rachada Dhnadirek on Sunday said Thailand still needs to monitor Covid-19 infections as cases spiked twice last week due to the worldwide spread of XBB.1.16, a substrain of the Omicron variant.

Most of those who died during the period were from the so-called "608" at-risk group -- which comprises people over 60 years old, those with underlying conditions and pregnant women.

The government urges people to get both flu and Covid-19 vaccines this year.

Members of the public can receive Covid-19 vaccines for free at state hospitals, while the costs of getting shots at privately-run hospitals will vary.

The flu vaccine is also provided for free for at-risk people.

Subscribers of the Social Security Fund who are over 50 years old can get a free flu vaccine once a year.

This year, flu vaccinations at their chosen hospitals will be offered from Monday to Aug 31.

The Public Health Ministry urges Thais who received Covid-19 shots three to four months ago to get boosted to reduce the severity of infections. There are bivalent types and upgraded versions of the vaccine available from major producers, including Pfizer and Moderna.

The National Health Security Office and the Department of Disease Control will open vaccination sites to administer 2.9 million doses of flu vaccines against three variants -- A H1N1, A H3N2 and B Victoria -- for seven at-risk groups under the universal health scheme, or gold card scheme, for free until Aug 31.

These groups include pregnant women; children aged 6 months to 2 years old; chronic disease patients, comprising of those with obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, cancer and diabetes; people over 65; people with thalassemia and immunodeficiency; people weighing over 100kg; and those with aphasia.

People in Bangkok who failed to register for vaccination via the Pao Tang app can call the 1330 hotline or contact “@nhso” on Line to get the issue fixed, she said.

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