People should hold off on getting a fourth vaccine shot for COVID-19 pending research and development into a new generation of vaccines, according to renowned virologist Yong Poovorawan.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Dr Poovorawan said a second booster shot should be saved for when it is absolutely necessary.
It should be rolled out after new knowledge has been gained about emerging variants of the disease, or when a new generation of vaccines is produced, said Dr Poovorawan, also chief of the Centre of Excellence in Clinical Virology at Chulalongkorn University.
His remarks came after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha instructed agencies to plan a fourth vaccine shot for next year as manufacturers will come up with new vaccine production technologies to fight the ever-mutating virus.
Dr Poovorawan said inoculation should not be rushed to reduce risks. The focus should now be on getting double doses to as many people as possible, and offering those who are double-jabbed a booster shot.
Giving a booster jab of either AstraZeneca or an mRNA vaccine should deliver sufficient immune protection to a reasonable degree. More research is being done to assess vaccine efficacy and the drop in immunity among vaccinated people, according to Dr Poovorawan.
He said immunity would be spurred if the third and fourth shots were administered further apart rather than too close together.
Dr Poovorawan said having too many jabs increases the risk of negative side effects.
He suggested people who paid for vaccines and booked appointments for a fourth shot should wait for now. They should receive the second booster at least six months after the first booster.
Meanwhile, government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana has outlined a rollout plan for these supplementary jabs.
Recipients of double doses of AstraZeneca should wait three to six months before taking a booster jab of either Pfizer or Moderna.
Those administered with either Pfizer or Moderna can obtain a booster of the same mRNA vaccine six months after receiving their second jab.
People who had either Sinovac or Sinopharm as their first shot and AstraZeneca as their second can seek a booster of either AstraZeneca or an mRNA vaccine.
The Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration has set a goal of administering 23 million booster doses by March, Mr Wangboonkongchana said.