The Department of Health is urging parents to take their children for Covid-19 shots ahead of the new school term this month after figures showed that almost 29% of kids aged between five and 11 have yet to receive a single dose.
Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoen, the department’s director-general, said yesterday that concerns among parents about serious side effects were expressed in a department survey on April 22-May 11.
The findings show that about 54.1% of children aged five and 11 have received their first jab and their parents plan to have them complete a full dose, while 28.7% remain entirely unvaccinated.
The Ministry of Public Health kicked off vaccinations among this age group in February with each child expected to receive two mRNA-based Pfizer jabs three to 12 weeks apart.
According to the ministry, Thailand has 5.8 million eligible children, including 900,000 who are considered as vulnerable to infections.
Dr Suwannachai said many parents are hesitant to get their kids vaccinated, with 77.2% of those polled worried about their kids experiencing adverse reactions and 55.3% saying they had safety concerns.
Also, 37% expressed concern that children who are not healthy or have underlying conditions may suffer serious side effects after inoculation, which might explain the reluctance.
He said the vaccine has been found to improve immunity against the disease and prevent severe symptoms and death in this age group and that it is the best precaution for children going back to school.
“Parents should consider having their children vaccinated and seek doctors’ advice if their kids have underlying health concerns,” he said.
According to Dr Suwannachai, common symptoms after administration of the Pfizer vaccine are swelling of the injection site, headaches, tiredness and fever but these effects can be treated with medication and with enough rest they should go away after a week.
Meanwhile, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has put in place a raft of measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 at the 437 BMA-run schools.
Chawin Sirinak, city deputy clerk, said face-mask wearing and social distancing remain mandatory on campus and lunch breaks will be staggered to avoid large gatherings.
He said the BMA has also asked parents to screen children for flu-like symptoms and have them take a day off if they do as well as inform the school administration.