Health ministry approves half-dose of mRNA vaccine as booster for elderly

PHOTO: UNHCR/Morgane Roussel Hemery

In a bid to persuade Thailand’s elderly population, and those with chronic illnesses, to get a Covid-19 booster, health officials have approved using half the usual dose. Dr Kiattiphum Wongrajit says the half-dose will be an mRNA vaccine, such as Pfizer, adding that officials are acknowledging a fear of side-effects among the elderly.

“To deal with this fear, I have instructed health officials to halve the Pfizer dose for the elderly. A half-dose will also be given to members of the general public if they want a fourth shot. This is because studies have shown that just half the dose of an mRNA vaccine can reduce both side effects and improve immunity.”

According to a Nation Thailand report, Kiattiphum says 97% of the Covid deaths reported yesterday were in people in high-risk groups such as the elderly, those with underlying health conditions, and pregnant women. Out of the 70 deaths reported, 47 were over the age of 70 and 52 had only received a single vaccine dose or none at all.

“Studies found that 30% of the senior Covid-19 patients did not have lung inflammation. So, if this group was given better protection, we should be able to reduce the number of deaths. If up to 60% of the elderly population gets the third shot, deaths can be more than halved.”

The health ministry is launching 2 campaigns ahead of the Songkran holiday next month. The first will be to persuade the elderly population to get vaccinated or boosted prior to receiving family members over the holiday. The second campaign is aimed at those who plan to visit their elderly relatives. The campaign will encourage them to avoid mass gatherings and large social events for at least a week before visiting their home provinces, and to take an antigen test before travelling.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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