It’s free but you don’t get a choice. Thai Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul announced that people will not be given a choice of which Covid-19 vaccine they receive. Amid widespread criticism of the slow rollout of vaccination in Thailand, the health minister discussed the process of vaccines being approved for distribution within Thailand. Many are concerned about possible side effects from the different vaccine options.
The minister stated that people reporting for vaccination will be injected with the most suitable option available for their demographic. No vaccine choice will be given in free inoculation centres. The health minister stressed that people will receive an immunising vaccine and that every Covid-19 vaccine that is administered in Thailand is first inspected by a vaccine safety committee.
Currently, the Sinovac vaccine is the most used jab in Thailand, being prioritised for medical workers, frontline workers, and immigration officers. Sinovac required two doses spaced 3 weeks apart. The Pfizer vaccine is still in the evaluation process, though the health minister commented that if and when it is approved for use in Thailand that vaccine would be be the ideal choice for young people from 12 to 18 years old, as it has been tested to be safe for children over 12.
The minister said that Thailand is prepared to register Covid-19 vaccines by all different manufacturers and that the government is not hindering any specific brand. But the process before vaccines can be administered within the borders involves the manufacturer registering their vaccine by submitting necessary documents to the Food and Drug Administration. The government then evaluates the vaccine and once it is deemed safe will approve the registration.
Currently, only Sinovac and AstraZeneca are available in Thailand, though many makers are pushing to get through the FDA approval process. The Thai government aims to lock down commitments from these two vaccine makers to confirm a speedy delivery timeline. The problem of importing vaccines in large quantities is that the jabs are needed worldwide including the home countries of the vaccine producers, which often get priority before exporting.
A second Chinese vaccine producer, Sinopharm, just had a meeting with the Public Health Minister but have not begun negotiations for import yet. The American vaccine Moderna is also working its way through the registration process, having submitted the documents to the FDA and awaiting approval now.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post
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