Priority groups in 18 provinces will receive the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine today, according to the Department of Disease Control (DDC).
They are Samut Sakhon, Bangkok, Samut Prakan, Samut Songkhram, Nonthaburi, Nakhon Pathom, Pathum Thani, Tak, Ratchaburi, Chon Buri, Phuket, Koh Samui district of Surat Thani, Chiang Mai, Rayong, Chanthaburi, Trat, Phetchaburi and Krabi.
According to the ministry’s plan, priority groups in the major centres of Chiang Mai and Bangkok will be inoculated today while those in Mae Sot in Tak, Phuket and Koh Samui will receive the first of their 2 vaccine shots tomorrow.
Speaking to media yesterday, DDC director-general Opas Karnkawinpong said that a total of 110,000 doses of the Sinovac formula had been distributed to 11 provinces – Nonthaburi, Samut Sakhon, Chon Buri, Samut Prakan, Pathum Thani, Bangkok, Tak’s Mae Sot district, Nakhon Pathom, Samut Songkhram, Ratchaburi and Chiang Mai.
Another 800,000 doses will arrive this month and will also be reserved for those most in need, Dr Karnkawinpong said.
The DDC chief said Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul was among the first 95 people to receive the vaccine at Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute and another 159 doses were also administered at Samut Sakhon Hospital yesterday.
No severe side-effects have been reported, Dr Karnkawinpong said, before adding this initial round was intended to boost public confidence in the vaccine’s safety.
Mr Charnvirakul became the first person in the country to get his shot at the hospital at 7.30 am yesterday with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha in attendance.
The vaccine is a formula developed by Sinovac Life Sciences, which has been judged safe for people aged 18-59.
So, while no doubt safe for those outside that age range too, Mr Charnvirakul said doctors advised the 66-year-old Gen Chan-o-cha not to be the first recipient.
Mr Charnvirakul also said the AstraZeneca vaccine, which arrived on 24th February, had yet to be endorsed by the Medical Science Department. “AstraZeneca has yet to submit documents and samples,” he said.
“The company is processing paperwork and has informed the government that it will submit the documents in about 10 days.
“When everything is ready, the prime minister will then receive the vaccine.”
Following Mr Charnvirakul, others vaccinated yesterday included Deputy Public Health Minister Sathit Pitutecha, Culture Minister Itthiphol Kunplome, Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Chalermchai Sri-on, Deputy Education Minister Kanokwan Vilawan and permanent secretary for public health Dr Kiatiphum Wongrajit.
A number of executives at the Public Health Ministry also received the jab with their second shots to follow on 22nd March.