The Ministry of Public Health is launching a campaign to educate people about the COVID-19 vaccine ahead of the country’s biggest-ever vaccination programme.
Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said a new sub-committee would discuss how best to inform the public about the vaccine.
It will be Thailand’s most ambitious rollout ever. About half the population will receive free jabs, the goal being to achieve herd immunity.
The challenge is that COVID-19 is unprecedented and vaccines have been developed in record time, a year, whereas previous vaccines often took four or five years to develop and test.
Furthermore, the pharmaceutical companies behind the vaccines have reportedly been given waivers of liability should patients suffer side effects.
“We need to launch a public campaign far and wide to inform the public about the COVID-19 vaccine,” Mr Charnvirakul said yesterday. “People need to be informed about how the vaccine works and the possible side effects, as well as the follow-up process and the monitoring people need to do.”
The first two million jabs, from Chinese company Sinovac, will start next month and go on until April, followed by the rollout of 60 million doses, mainly from Oxford University/AstraZeneca, which will begin in May and continue until the end of the year.
Mr Charnvirakul yesterday announced that four groups would be given the Sinovac vaccine and priority would be given to those in five high-risk provinces and other risk areas, such as the western border where disease-prone migrant labourers have been arriving.
The first group is medical staff working in high-risk areas; the second is patients with pre-existing serious conditions such as cancer, pulmonary disease, heart disease, diabetes and kidney disease; the third is frail elderly aged over 60, and the last group is health volunteers and security personnel who need to monitor and screen COVID-19-prone people.
He said the ministry would allow private hospitals to sell FDA-approved vaccinations because this would reduce the workload on the public sector.