The Public Health Ministry has unveiled a plan to progressively roll out almost 30 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine across all 77 provinces by August.
According to Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, director-general of the Department of Disease Control (DDC), the plan adds to the more than 100,000 people in the target groups already inoculated in the national vaccination programme.
The department chief said the next phase of vaccination began this month with 300,000 people earmarked for the jab. The vaccination timetable will continue until August when the last 10 million doses will be provided.
The priority is at-risk groups of people who make up 10.4 million of the 28.1 million candidates for vaccination during that time.
The vaccine distribution plan also involves identifying and entrusting 4,000 clinics and medical facilities to deliver the jabs nationwide with the number of provinces receiving the jabs increasing from 13 this month to all 77 next month.
“Indeed, the inoculations hinge on the number of vaccines made available.
“We can only operate within our capability to meet these targets. We will distribute as many of the vaccines as we possibly can,” Dr Karnkawinpong said.
As for the first phase from 28th February to 25th March, altogether, 136,190 doses have been administered so far. Of these, 121,392 were first doses and the rest were receiving their second of the two required jabs.
“The numbers of people being vaccinated and health facilities offering the service will increase in the coming months. This is vital for fast and effective vaccine distribution and coverage,” he said.
Meanwhile, the quarantine period for international arrivals will shrink from 14 to 10 days next month, according to the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA).
However, the revised quarantine is not applicable to nationals of countries with rampant infections by highly-contagious variants of COVID-19. In these cases, the standard 14-day quarantine period still applies.
Dr Karnkawinpong said the department is keeping watch on the South African variant now affecting South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Zambia, Kenya, Rwanda, Cameroon, Congo, Ghana and Tanzania.
Updates of quarantine information are relayed to the Foreign Affairs Ministry for dissemination and for announcement on the DDC website every fortnight.
Dr Karnkawinpong said that even though about 500 million doses have been administered to people worldwide, COVID-19 transmission rates remain high in some countries. For example, Brazil recently reported a single-day jump of almost 100,000 new cases despite its rollout of 17 million doses of vaccine to 5% of the population.
“It goes to show that vaccines alone can’t protect people from the disease,” he said.
Health precautions and protection measures such as the wearing of face masks, frequent hand washing and social distancing must still be practised, Dr Karnkawinpong said.
Also yesterday, the Department of Health Service Support (DHSS) warned people not to fall for false advertisements offering COVID-19 vaccinations for a fee that were being shared on the Line chat application.
The Line group chat was created by the so-called “Qinsong Group” claiming it has vaccines with a 100% efficacy for sale.