Politicians called on the public to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to help Thailand achieve herd immunity and get the economy back on track as a vaccine rollout for MPs and senators began yesterday.
Several MPs turned up to receive COVID-19 jabs at the Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute after being told by the House of Representatives’ secretariat office that they could be inoculated there from 16th – 30th April.
Those aged over 60 will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine while others will receive Sinovac’s vaccine. MPs who are under quarantine can receive their shots after completing quarantine.
Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul defended the programme for the MPs and senators.
He said MPs and senators were the priority group in the first phase of the vaccine rollout because they travel often and meet large numbers of people.
Mr Charnvirakul insisted on the efficacy and safety of AstraZeneca and Sinovac vaccines while emphasising that social distancing measures must be strictly observed even after vaccination.
Thanikarn Pornpongsaroj, an MP from the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), called on the public to book a vaccination appointment through the “Mor Prom” mobile app.
The Public Health Ministry will start the COVID-19 jab rollout in June and aims to have 50% of the population immunised by the end of this year.
Move Forward Party (MFP) MPs led by deputy leader Picharn Chaopattanwong were among the first who turned up for the rollout yesterday. Their move caught many by surprise as the opposition party was a staunch critic of the vaccine programme.
MFP deputy leader Sirikanya Tansakul said the party MPs decided to get inoculated in a show of social responsibility and called on every sector to cooperate when asked to get jabs.
Ms Tansakul said the vaccine programme was instrumental in creating herd immunity and allowing people to regain their livelihood. It also would help ease the burden of public health officials as vaccines are effective in preventing severe cases of COVID-19.
However, she called on the government to speed up the procurement and rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and to buy from various suppliers to reduce risks and delays.
She pointed to Denmark’s decision to stop its rollout of AstraZeneca vaccines amid concerns about rare cases of blood clots.
“The vaccine programme is essential. People have to make do with what they have.”
“We believe that vaccination is better than none, but if the government can procure more and give the public more alternatives, the risks which the public have to carry will be lower. The government itself can better respond if something untoward happens,” she said.
MFP spokesman Wiroj Lakkhanaadisorn also defended on Twitter his decision to get inoculated after being slammed by his critics.
Mr Lakkhanaadisorn on 7th April said the government had failed to secure enough COVID-19 vaccines for the public. He pledged he would get inoculated only when the country had enough jabs.
“Despite me criticising the government vaccine plan, I always stress that vaccination is important and it can help us get herd immunity. This is a collective responsibility,” he said.
“If the government can manage the risks better, people will have better choices without unnecessary risks.”