The country’s vaccine stockpile will top 125 million doses by the end of the year as vaccination picks up pace across all segments of the population, says Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul.
“The nationwide inoculation drive is speeding up so we can return to normalcy,” he said yesterday.
The minister estimated that by the end of December, the country will have about 125 million doses in stock.
There will also be a rapid vaccine rollout. On Mahidol Day yesterday, a public holiday for the state sector, an unprecedented 1.3 million doses were given nationwide. It also marked the first time that booster shots were rolled out to the general public.
Security of vaccine supply and steady vaccinations were essential for restarting the economy, Mr Charnvirakul added.
The booster jabs are being offered to people who received the double Sinovac vaccine doses between March and June. The booster shots would lift immunity against the Delta variant of COVID-19.
Those eligible for the third dose should register for vaccination, he said.
Mr Charnvirakul said more vaccine has arrived and the rollout will be accelerated to cover all population segments.
The Pfizer vaccine is manufactured using mRNA technology. The government has ordered some 30 million doses, to arrive from the end of this month until the end of the year.
The Pfizer vaccine is suitable for immunising people aged 12 and over. The Public Health Ministry and the Education Ministry have launched a campaign to inoculate students between the ages of 12 and 18 in preparation for a return to in-person study in the second term beginning in November.
Kiatiphum Wongrajit, the public health permanent secretary, said the country has hit the 50-million-dose mark in its vaccination campaign covering 44% of the population who have had their first dose.
The ultimate target is to inoculate 50 million people with double doses, he added.
Department of Disease Control director-general Opas Karnkawinpong said daily caseloads would determine the amounts of vaccine needed.
Yesterday, 11,975 new infections were reported with daily caseloads showing signs of reducing on the back of universal prevention measures and a heavy vaccination drive in place. Fatalities yesterday stood at 127.
The number of severe COVID-19 sufferers with lung infections has dropped to 3,323 and those requiring aspirators to 729 nationwide.
During this month alone, 15.7 million doses have arrived, in addition to the amounts of alternative vaccine. “We’re making quite some progress with the vaccination,” he said.
Next month, 30 million doses, including those produced by China’s Sinopharm, will be obtained.
By November, 50 million people are expected to have received their first doses, or 71% of the population, he said.