The Department of Disease Control (DDC) announced on Thursday that Thailand’s COVID-19 vaccination programme will start in May 2021.
The country last week signed a 6 billion baht deal to buy 26 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine from the UK to immunise 13 million people.
The announcement was made on the same day as the first consignment of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine arrived in the UK. It was taken to a central hub at an undisclosed location and will be distributed to hospital vaccination centres around the UK.
DDC Director-General, Opas Karnkawinpong said the vaccine will have to pass safety and quality checks applied by the Thai Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Department of Medical Sciences.
The DDC will prepare vaccination centres at more than 10,000 sub-district health promotion hospitals nationwide to reach communities quickly and prevent crowding in large hospitals.
A cold-chain transport system to maintain vaccine quality is now being prepared, and officials are being training for the mass vaccination programme.
The first groups eligible for registration will be medical staff, young children, the elderly, and vulnerable people.
Local health authorities will notify registered participants in advance for vaccination at health promotion hospitals or mobile health units.
A programme to monitor any adverse side effects will run from July 2021 until January 2022.
A public information campaign will also explain that groups with high natural immunity won’t be vaccinated straight away.
Mr Karnkawinpong confirmed that vaccination will be provided free of charge by the government.
Private hospitals will be permitted to source their own vaccine supply, he added.