As Thailand gets to grips with a new wave of infections, the Kingdom has taken steps to expand and accelerate its vaccination programme. Officials believe the best defence is to contain the outbreak in the short term, while also aiming for more widespread immunity as a long-term solution. As part of the new approach, more groups are being made eligible for state vaccines, while the PM himself has taken personal control of their distribution.
On 27 April, Thailand’s PM decided to personally take control of the Kingdom’s vaccine distribution programme. Following cabinet approval of the action, the PM will assume chief responsibility for the procurement and distribution of vaccines; he will also have the final say on all decisions related to Thailand’s Covid-19 pandemic response, while being the leading authority on the country’s Communicable Disease Act, the Immigration Act, National Health Security Act, and the Medical Equipment Act.
According Natapanu Nopakun, who is deputy spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, all expats living in Thailand are now eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine. Officials say Thailand plans to roll out a “massive vaccination plan”, with the aim of vaccinating everyone living in Thailand. “All people residing in Thailand, regardless of nationality, are eligible to receive the vaccine under the plan,” he announced on 29 April during the daily briefing by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.
Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport has been transformed into a Covid-19 vaccination hub, where healthcare workers have set up shop in 42 check-in counters and are vaccinating frontline workers, airport staff, immigration officers and airline crew. The makeshift facility is currently doing about 1,000 vaccinations per day, and plans to inoculate 30,000 people in total by the end of May.
Thailand began mass distribution of vaccines nationwide on 24 February, using a combination of Sinovac, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizfer/BioNTech, Covishield and Moderna. The Kingdom plans to vaccinate 300,000 people per day, meaning the entire country would be fully vaccinated by the end of the year. Large scale vaccination programmes are already underway in Phuket and Koh Samui, as part of plans to reopen several of Thailand’s most popular destinations by the end of the summer.