The Department of Disease Control has urged more than 2 million elderly people to get COVID-19 shots before the Songkran festival as infections may soar during the festive period when families reunite across the nation.
Dr Sophon Iamsirithavorn, the department’s deputy chief, said on Friday that the department has voiced strong concern that 2.17 million senior citizens still have not received any COVID-19 vaccines, meaning their health could be jeopardised if they get infected.
“Getting vaccinated can save their lives and certainly minimise any severe symptoms if they catch COVID-19,” he said, citing statistics that show that two doses plus a booster means they are 41 times less likely to die if they contract the disease.
He said 928 elderly people have died from COVID-19 in Thailand over the past two months, most of whom were not vaccinated.
“A large percentage of the elderly demographic in Thailand is now vaccinated with at least one shot, with coverage now extending to 83% of the elderly population, or 10.54 million people,” he said.
“But more than two million people in that age bracket still haven’t had any shots at all. They need to get vaccinated as quickly as possible,” Dr Iamsirithavorn added.
“We don’t want to see a tragic loss of life among older generations of families due to this disease during the Songkran festival.”
Statistics provided by the department show that out of every 100,000 senior citizens in Thailand aged 60 to 69, 521 contract COVID-19. The number is slightly lower for those above 70 at 444.
These two groups see the highest rate of death, with 0.62% and 2.86% respectively. This compares to a mortality rate of just 0.01% for a child aged 0-9 years or 0.03% for working people aged 30-39.
Family members are urged to take their elderly relations to get jabbed, Dr Iamsirithavorn said.
Previously the department said that in a worst-case scenario, the Omicron-led pandemic could see over 100,000 cases a day unless people rigorously adhere to all preventive measures, with deaths capped at 50 a day.
And yet the situation has already exceeded that fatality forecast, with Thailand reporting 23,834 new cases on Friday and 54 deaths.