PM Gen Prayut greeted vaccine recipients during the mass vaccination roll-out at Bang Sue grand Station yesterday. Credit: Public Health Ministry

Over 400,000 doses of Covid vaccines administered in one day as Thailand’s mass vaccination rolled out

Adequate doses of the vaccines are assured by top officials including the Prime Minister, Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, after they have been under strong criticism for poorly handling the scheme, which is seen as being long-delayed

Despite reports of shortage of Covid vaccines in some hospitals in upcountry, Thailand has seen the first day of its mass vaccination roll-out hit over 400,000 doses.

416,847 is the number of doses of Covid-19 vaccines reported back to the government as having been administered to people across the country on the first day of the country’s mass vaccination roll out yesterday. Of these, 388,872 doses were administered as the first shot, while 27, 975 more were reported as the second shots administered to the people.

The mass roll-out of vaccination came amid rising criticism against the government alleged of poorly handling the situation as the outbreak has escalated especially in the capital of Bangkok and its peripheries.

Since the third wave hit the country in late March and early April, the virus, which belongs to the new variant from the UK, now called as Alpha, has spread quickly following its fast-spreading nature, prompting the whole country to be infected. The hardest-hit areas are Bangkok and its peripheries, critically due to its socio-economic settings, which comprise cramped and crowded locations and gatherings.

As of today, 74 clusters have been reported in 35 districts in the city, which has seen over 48,000 cumulative cases reported since the third wave, or nearly one-third of the country’s cumulative cases, which stands at 153, 685.

Following the severe outbreak, the government has placed hope on a mass vaccination program, which was first introduced last month with a queue booking and case follow-up application, Mor Prom. However, acquiring enough vaccines for people has become a major challenge as every country is vying for them whereas the supplies are still much limited.

The government had merely managed to cover frontline workers and medical staff over the past few months with the vaccines largely acquired from China’s Sinovac. It was not until early this month, that AstraZeneca’s local manufacturer, Siam Bioscience, started to roll out the vaccine and delivered the first lot to the government. Under the contract, 6 million doses of its AstraZeneca would be delivered to the government this month onwards, until 61 million doses under the contract have finished by this year.

PM Prayut, while inspecting vaccination centers set inside Bang Sue Grand Station and some few other facilities in the city on the kick-off of the mass vaccination roll-out yesterday, offered apologies to the public for causing discomforts in regard to the outbreak, but did not go into detail what exactly issue he wanted to apologise the pubic.

“Any thing that makes you feel uncomfortable, I apologise for that,” said PM Prayut.

Mass vaccination roll-outs in several locations in the city on the first day, June 7. Credit: Public Health Ministry and BMA

Equal treatment challenge

As it can be at ease about the quantities of vaccines to feed the surging demands, the government is still encountering with another issue concerning equal treatment in regard to mass Covid-19 vaccination.

PM Prayut has reiterated his policy on mass vaccination against Covid-19 during the press briefing at Government House today that everyone in this country who wishes to receive vaccines would be eligible for that. The government, he said, would try more with every means to get vaccines for people in spite of the fact that it already has been secured with some contracts.

Under the government’s plan, at least 70% of the population or 50 million citizens would receive the vaccines by this year so that herd community could be boosted up. 50 million more doses would be sought out for next year to ensure that the country is secured from the virus mutation.

To ensure equity in vaccine reception, the government has guided the Public Health Ministry and concerned authorities that vaccines acquired must be shared to every province based on the sizes of the population. Then comes the areas or groups at high risks, and last but not least is tourist areas, which the government has given importance to.

What is not demonstrated in the calculation and planning is the percentages shared among these classified areas or groups.

“We will see month by month and adjust the plans accordingly,” said PM Prayut.