Mass Covid-19 vaccination program kicked off with “Mor Prom” app introduced

The government has launched the mass vaccination program for the general public with an introduction of the vaccine booking application and Line account for the first target groups to book their places

The application, Mor Prom, and Line account of the same name have been introduced to the public since yesterday to allow people aged 60 and over and those with seven chronic illnesses to register for free-of-charge Covid-19 vaccination provided by the government. The illnesses include respiratory diseases, heart and coronary diseases, kidney diseases, cerebrovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers, and obesity.

The administration of the vaccines to people is set from June 7 onwards.

Altogether, there would be around 16 million of them. The government has readjusted its vaccination goal to cover 70% of the total population, or 50 million people within this year. The first target groups are people aged 60 and over and those with severe chronic diseases, the rest would be around 31 million people.

Previously, it planned to cover 70% of those needed after excluding pregnant women and children aged under 18, which would be around 35 million people. The vaccines were first set at around 65 million doses for these 35 million people, thought to be enough to boost herd immunity.

After the third wave struck, the government then adjusted the vaccination goal to cover all needed, which is accounted for 70% of the total population, and therefore 35 million more doses are being sought out additionally, or 100 million doses altogether.

This is the second phase of Covid-19 vaccination in the country as the first phase involved vaccination in emergency for medical staff and officers in the frontlines as well as patients with chronic diseases in the areas plagued by the second wave. The first batches of vaccines from China’s Sinovac and imported AstraZeneca have been used to serve the purpose, over two million doses of them.

As the mass vaccination program begins, the government ensures that the first target groups of 16 million people will all get the vaccines. This is because the mass production of locally made AstraZeneca will be kicked off around June, almost the same time when the vaccine administration for these people is set.

So far, over 400,000 people have registered with Mor Prom, both through Line account and the application. Due to overwhelming demand, the system had collapsed during the day yesterday, before they got fixed. The vaccination registration for the second target groups would be opened from July onwards.

“After receiving two doses of the vaccine, the bodies will boost immunity against the virus, hopefully, people will not get severely sick when hospitalized nor need respiratory cylinders. There are some studies now that suggest that the vaccines can also help reduce transmission rates, so hopefully we can open our country again, and our economy can also return to normal,” said Dr. Pongsatorn Pokpermdee, the Public Health Ministry’s advisor during the briefing yesterday.

The principal building in National Stadium is temporarily turned into a pre-admission center to help ease an overwhelming number of patients.
Credit: Public Health Ministry

The challenges

The Public Health Ministry is still paying much attention to the spreading of the virus as the number of daily infection cases is still high and the transmissions have shifted towards families and households.

According to the ministry’s EOC analysis, over 70% of transmissions are now within families or friends or office workers’ circles. Bangkok, in particular, still sees the number of daily cases climbing up in spite of the fact that disease control measures are in place. Its cumulative cases since the beginning of the third wave of the outbreaks, or April 1, are accounted for nearly one third of the total cases, or around 13, 000 out of over 40,000 reported today.

The continuing surge of virus outbreaks has put more and more pressure on critical medical resources including ICU beds and respiratory cylinders. Over 900 people are reported as severe cases and 270 of these need respiratory cylinders, the situation which medical experts said is pushing the resources to become stretched thin now. In Bangkok, over 80% of such resources are used up already, according to the ministry.

To deal with the situation, some patients from Bangkok will be transferred to hospitals in provinces nearby, while pre-admission centres and more field hospitals are set up to help reduce the pressure from new patients flooding in each day.

The government has just stepped up the disease control measures in a bid to curb the spread of the virus, first and foremost, declaring Bangkok and some five other provinces as the maximum and strict control zone so that strict measures can be imposed, including limited time spent in necessary venues such as malls and markets and closure of high-risk areas.

Worldwide, the number of new coronavirus cases has climbed upward since the beginning of March, more than doubling in two months, the New York Times reported. The average daily rate of new cases has now been above 800,000 for more than a week, the newspaper said.

The newspaper further said that the increase in cases is largely being driven by the uncontrolled outbreak in India, where new cases have risen sharply for the past month, a seven-day average of 357,000 per day, which is a more than fivefold increase since April 1.

India now accounts for more than 40 percent of the world’s new cases, with more than 3,000 people now dying every day, the newspaper said.