As many as 150 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines will be sought out to cover as many citizens as possible, while the second generation of them is being eyed for to help the government deal with possible virus mutation in the future, according to the National Vaccine Committee
The committee today has resolved to adjust the country’s coming mass Covid-19 vaccine administration plan to include ordinary citizens in high-risk areas, along with a few target groups of people aged 60 and over and those with seven chronic diseases.
The resolution came in response to the Prime Minister’s new directive regarding the vaccine administration, according to Deputy PM and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, who chairs the committee’s meeting today.
PM Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha revealed his new directive over the vaccine administration against Covid-19 last Friday, saying the government would try to seek more of the vaccines to be added to what previously planned. This followed his consultation with some medical and public health experts.
Last month, the government had adjusted the plan by increasing the doses it would seek from 65 to 100 million to be able to cover 50 million people or 70% of the population. It then launched the mass vaccination plan for the first few groups of citizens early this month after having administered the vaccines to protect medical staff and authorities working on the front line since late February. The plan was kicked off with the introduction of the application and Line account, Mor Prom, for the target groups to register before receiving the vaccines, expected to start from June onwards.
The PM then revised the number to 150 million doses, before announcing that they would be set for as many citizens as possible. He then declared the Covid-19 vaccination administration as a national agenda at the Cabinet meeting yesterday.
The premier had reasoned that the situation kept changing as the virus keeps mutating, thus raising uncertainty for countries to deal with additionally. So, Thailand needed to prepare itself to deal with such uncertainty as well by having more vaccines to cover its citizens, who would need the third dose if the virus mutates. This was in addition to possible delays of the vaccine deliveries following high demands from several countries at once, the premier added.
His swiftly shifted directive prompted concerned officials to quickly call for urgent meetings, the National Vaccine Committee’s sub-panel and the committee itself included, to adjust their plans to go in line with the PM’s new directive.
“I have proposed to the Cabinet that the Covid-19 vaccine administration should be made our national agenda and we will give it utmost importance among the government’s policies so that we can boost herd community as quickly as possible.
“All I said would not be possible if you people do not come forward to receive the vaccines. So, I would like to invite you all to receive them so that our country can move on,” said PM Prayut yesterday.
The freshly adjusted plan
Mr. Anutin said the committee, in response to the PM’s directive, will adjust the country’s mass Covid-19 vaccine administration plan by administering the first shot to as many citizens as possible. Besides registration via Mor Prom, the government will allow ordinary citizens to walk in to receive the vaccines along with the first two groups. They can also come in groups or on behalf of their organisations, he said.
Mr. Anutin said the areas in focus first will be high-risk areas and up to 70% of the population in the areas are expected to get the vaccines as quickly as possible. The provincial communicable diseases committees will be the ones that make the decisions on the vaccine distribution among all groups of people in their responsible areas, he said.
Earlier, Bangkok was also in the focus of the committee’s subpanel, which proposed the vaccine inoculation to cover 70% of Bangkok’s residents or up to five million people in the next two months, but the plan has not been confirmed at the committee’s meeting today. Bangkok is the hotspot of the third wave of Covid-19 outbreaks, which so far has still seen the number of new daily infection cases relatively high, compared with the number of cases reported in upcountry.
Mr. Anutin said the committee will try to get as many vaccines as expected, up to 150 million doses, and it will try to negotiate with more vaccine producers in order to get the vaccines.
“The adjusted plan is aimed at reducing the rates of deaths and severe illnesses by the disease so we need to eliminate all obstacles against people’s access to the vaccines,” said Mr. Anutin.
The committee has also resolved to prepare the country for possible virus mutation. It will seek the second generation of the vaccines from those working on the issue, hopefully, it can obtain the vaccines by early next year. The committee is also eyeing technology transfer against the virus mutation, he added.
“This is broad planning so we can have choices,” said Mr. Anutin.
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