Health Minister confident COVID-19 situation will improve next year


BANGKOK (NNT) – The Minister of Public Health says he is confident the COVID-19 situation will be better next year, while the rollout of booster shots for the general public officially began today, specifically for those previously vaccinated with inactivated virus vaccines.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul today presided over the official COVID-19 booster shot rollout ceremony, at a mass vaccination center located at CentralPlaza Westgate shopping mall in Nonthaburi.

The government selected today as the official rollout date of booster shots for the general public, to coincide with Mahidol Day which commemorates the passing of Prince Mahidol Adulyadej, who is regarded as the father of modern medicine in Thailand.

On this special occasion, the Thai government has set a target of 1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to be given on this day.

The vaccination center at CentralPlaza Westgate is one of the mass vaccination sites serving residents of Nonthaburi in the province’s Nont Prompt vaccination drive. The booster shot rollout is now available to those who were fully vaccinated with two doses of Sinovac vaccine in March-May this year. A shot of AstraZeneca vaccine is being offered as the third dose for this group.

The booster shot rollout is aimed at addressing the insufficient level of immune protection this group of vaccine recipients has against the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The vaccination center is expected to administer a second dose of AstraZeneca to 12,000 people, and booster shots to 500 people.

The Minister of Public Health, said today that health authorities are on track to reach the vaccination targets, while stressing all types of COVID-19 vaccine in Thailand are effective in preventing severe illnesses and death from the disease.

He said more studies will be conducted six months after the second dose, and after the third dose in the booster group, to determine whether additional boosters are needed.

Mr Anutin said the COVID-19 situation should be better next year, while reminding the general public to continue adhering to health and safety measures strictly.

He said the authorities will be making safety assessments to further relax restrictions once the situation improves to an acceptable point, in order to allow a normal livelihood to return quickly.