About 1.6 million more doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine are being delivered this week as the Public Health Ministry promises a more effective distribution in future.
The ministry also referred the first 1,000 elderly and those with underlying ailments, whose jabbing appointments at hospitals in Bangkok had been deferred due to a supply shortage, for vaccinations at Bang Sue Grand Station on Wednesday.
Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said the ministry received 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine on Wednesday and a further one million would arrive tomorrow.
Mr Charnvirakul visited Bang Sue on Wednesday and met people who had registered via the Mor Prom app but been turned away by hospitals because vaccine supplies had run out.
The ministry arranged for them to be referred to Bang Sue and 1,000 of them had their first jabs there on Wednesday.
“It’s about taking the load off the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA),” Mr Charnvirakul said. “It’s clear that we (the ministry and the BMA) are not at odds over the vaccine rollout.”
The minister earlier insisted there was a sufficient supply of vaccines and suggested the suspension of vaccinations at Bangkok hospitals might have been due to problems allocating the stock.
He reiterated that the elderly and people with underlying illnesses were more vulnerable to the virus and urgently required vaccinating.
He admitted that such priority groups had nevertheless had their appointments deferred so he thanked the Department of Disease Control and the Department of Medical Services for discussing changes in vaccination venues.
The Public Health Ministry says Bang Sue Grand Station can vaccinate up to 2,000 elderly people and those with underlying illnesses per day.
Mr Charnvirakul said the goal was to finish vaccinating those two groups by the end of next month. In Bangkok, about 450,000 people from the two groups have secured vaccination appointments via the Mor Prom app.
Mr Charnvirakul vowed that as soon as the additional 1.6 million doses arrive, they will be distributed around the country with the two groups being the first to be inoculated.
Bangkok will obtain a relatively large portion of the vaccine because it is where COVID-19 is heavily prevalent, he added.
He denied the AstraZeneca vaccine was being diverted in large amounts to Buri Ram, the constituency he represents.
“I know I’m being watched. If I had done something so foolish, it would have been politically suicidal,” he said. As public health minister, he said he was only in charge of directing policy, not assigning vaccine quotas for each province.
Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin said 254,631 workers who are social security members have been inoculated in Bangkok since the vaccination rollout began on 7th June.