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Thailand will give fourth vaccine for those who need it for travel

Neill Fronde



FILE PHOTO: Anutin says some may need fourth vaccines in order to travel to some destinations.

Apart from the growing evident reality of global inequality of access to vaccines, across Thailand there is still a gap where some people are struggling to get access to their first vaccine while others have had their third booster shot already. Now Thailand is beginning a round of fourth Covid-19 vaccine injections for those who require one, mainly for international travel.

A fourth vaccine seems to be unique to Thailand, with most countries administering 2 vaccines and a few moving forward now with booster vaccine programs. But, according to Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul, the fourth vaccine may be a necessity for financial recovery in a global economy, especially for those travelling the world for business.

The problem stems from Thailand’s choice of vaccine brands and strategy of mixing and matching vaccines. Many countries don’t recognise the so-called “vaccine cocktail” idea of mixing 2 different vaccine brands, especially for those who received 1 injection of Sinovac and a second of AstraZeneca, or possibly even a combination of AstraZeneca and Pfizer, would not be considered fully vaccinated.

Also, Sinovac and Sinopharm are not accepted as valid vaccines in some countries, such as Switzerland where officials travel to join World Health Organisation meetings. Because of the limitations on mixed vaccination and lesser acceptance of Sinovac, even someone vaccinated with 2 Sinovac injections and an AstraZeneca booster vaccine may not be able to enter some countries.

Many officials or business travellers may need to enter countries to take part in meetings or seminars or to conduct business trade. Recognising the economic loss that travel limited by vaccine status could bring, Anutin says a fourth vaccine is the only option for those travellers in need.

The minister declared that there is not enough data yet to know how long a fourth vaccine would maintain efficacy, suggesting it could be anywhere from 1 year to 2 years. The Thai government is committed to continuing its booster programs until research data shows the population is safe from Covid-19.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10 years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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