Walk-in vaccine centre plan limping, not ready to launch

FILE PHOTO: Walk-ins may be waiting a while for Covid-19 vaccines as the rollout isn't ready yet.

After proud announcements of walk-in vaccine sites launching in Bangkok and around Thailand, now there seems to be more walking back than walking in. Hospitals were flooded with calls from people looking to book a walk-in appointment to receive a Covid-19 vaccine but were told that there were no jabs currently available. PM Prayut Chan-o-cha said that this whole thing was just a misunderstanding and that walk-in centres would not be prepared to launch until June.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration and the Public Health Ministry were asked to clarify the confusing on-again-off-again vaccination scheme in Thailand. The government had announced just two days ago that any province that was prepared can offer a free vaccine to any walk-in patients, but apparently “prepared” was the keyword with most locations not yet ready to vaccinate.

Right now, pop-up vaccine centres are like movie scenes where the whole wedding ceremony is standing and ready but the bride is nowhere to be seen. Walk-in vaccine centre locations, staffing, operating hours, and appointment setting applications have been in preparation, but the centres are missing one key element: vaccines.

PM Prayut assured that as soon as enough vaccines to go around were available, mass vaccinations in walk-in centres will be launched in full force. Thailand is attempting to build up a cache of jabs to guarantee 2 shots for everyone in Thailand. Aside from frontline workers and medical staff, the prime minister has frequently expressed concern for essential workers that come in contact with many people like those in the food and service sectors, factory workers, and those involved with transportation like taxis, public transportation, and truck delivery drivers.

The AstraZeneca vaccine it’s still being promised to roll out next month as originally scheduled, according to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul. Siam Biosciences is in production to shore up AstraZeneca jab supplies while imported vaccines are apparently boxed up and ready to ship. Thailand also has a stockpile of the Chinese Sinovac vaccine, though many people expressed concerns about their effectiveness and stated they prefer a different vaccine.

Thailand is still aiming for reaching the 70% herd immunity threshold with 50 million people receiving their 2 jabs, with the planned June 7th launch of the initiative. The first wave of vaccines was planned for 16 million elderly and at-risk people, but only 10% of that demographic has registered for an appointment prompting the government to launch the walk-in vaccine centre scheme. Anutin noted though that only 20% of incoming vaccines have been earmarked for walk-in patients, so appointments are still the recommended route.

The director of the BMA says that they plan to vaccinate 6 million Bangkok residents by the end of July and that the Public Health Ministry is set to deliver 1 million vaccines on Monday.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

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Neill Fronde

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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