Thailand's Vaccination Drive Gains Momentum in 2023

Thailand's Vaccination Drive Gains Momentum in 2023

The National Vaccine Institute (NVI), Thailand in collaboration with various health-related agencies, dedicated to reducing morbidity and mortality caused by vaccine-preventable diseases. Our mission is to accelerate the enhancement of health immunization through vaccination efforts.

The National Vaccine Institute (NVI), Thailand is working in tandem with government and private health-related agencies, as well as medical experts, to intensify efforts in fortifying the nation's health through vaccination. Our goal is to reduce morbidity and mortality among Thai population.

In conjunction with the Vaccine for People Foundation, NVI, the World Health Organization (WHO) Representative to Thailand, and the Department of Disease Control (DDC), along with partners from both the public and private sectors, convened a press conference themed “Together, Increase Immunity and Prevention Against Diseases: Lifetime Immunization when Vaccine is Important to Everyone” on World Immunization Day 2023.  This event aligns with our collective mission to enhance the well-being of Thai people, promote good health, and establish robust disease immunity at all stages of life.

On November 10, 2023, at the Mandarin Hotel Bangkok, Dr. Manit Theeratantikanont, President of the Vaccine for People Foundation, delivered the opening speech, emphasising the significance of World Immunization Day. The foundation, in collaboration with NVI, the World Health Organization Representative to Thailand, and various public and private sector agencies, is committed to organising a series of health-related activities to ensure that people of all ages in Thailand enjoy good health and safeguard themselves from diseases through vaccination. This aligns with the national framework to efficiently improve immunisation operations, in line with the World Vaccine Action Plan's goal of reducing morbidity and mortality from vaccine-preventable diseases by 2030.

Dr. Sunate Cheunkitmongkol, Deputy Director of the National Vaccine Institute, highlighted that despite the global success of immunization programs, Thailand still faces challenges in achieving complete vaccine coverage, managing periodic outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases like measles, and addressing vaccine hesitancy.  These issues demand serious solutions and prioritized cooperation between public and private sectors.  Effective communication of accurate information by experts, along with the diversification of communication channels, is essential to ensure that people do not miss opportunities for vaccination. This comprehensive approach aims to reduce the incidence of severe illness and death from vaccine-preventable diseases among Thai population.

Dr. Jos Vandelaer representing the World Health Organization Representative to Thailand, pointed out that during the COVID-19 pandemic, many individuals, including children and adults, missed essential vaccinations for diseases such as polio, tetanus, cervical cancer, and measles. To address this, the Thai government, through the Ministry of Public Health, initiated "The Big Catch Up" project to provide vaccination opportunities, emphasising that vaccines guarantee protection against illness and death for people of all ages.

Collaborative Efforts Drive Immunization Progress

Dr. Sophon Iamsirithaworn, Deputy Director-General of the Department of Disease Control, provided updates on vaccination coverage under Thailand's immunization program in 2023. He mentioned the "Big Catch Up" campaign, which aimed to increase vaccination rates across Thailand, with an emphasis on regions with lower coverage. Additionally, a campaign targeting cervical cancer prevention (HPV) is underway, aiming to vaccinate one million girls aged 11-20, both in and out of the education system, within 100 days. Collaboration with 13 agencies is essential to expedite vaccination efforts.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Piroon Mootsikapun, President of The Infectious Disease Association of Thailand, stressed the importance of strengthening disease immunity, particularly among the elderly. Collaborating with the Ministry of Public Health and related agencies, the association aims to provide increased access to vaccines. Vaccination is crucial, especially in the face of outbreaks of diseases like influenza, dengue fever, and shingles. Vaccines can significantly reduce sickness and death rates among the population.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Tawee Chotpitayasunondh, representing the Paediatric Infectious Diseases Society of Thailand, highlighted the role of the association in providing knowledge and training to paediatricians and advising the Ministry of Public Health. He emphasised that vaccines are essential for maximum protection against infectious diseases and mentioned that having a vaccine is not the same as receiving it.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Surasit Chaithongwongwattana, representing the Royal Thai College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, emphasised the agency's mission to promote women's health. The agency collaborates with the Ministry of Public Health to provide women with greater access to vaccines. They also create vaccination recommendations for various groups of women based on the latest medical evidence, epidemiology, and health economics. The dissemination of accurate vaccine information is a crucial aspect of their work.

Two categories are have been defined in regarding vaccination recommendations for reproductive age groups: 1) teenagers before pregnancy who should receive vaccines to prevent long-term health issues, such as the cervical cancer vaccine, and 2) pregnant women who should be vaccinated to prevent infections that may harm both the mother and the foetus. Consultation with a doctor before vaccination is strongly advised.

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