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Thailand has been trying to procure at least 35 million more vaccine doses in 2021 to boost its vaccination drive by 50 percent in order to reopen the country completely for tourists. Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health revealed that the country ordered 63 million doses of the cost-effective coronavirus jabs to inoculate the population and achieve national herd immunity. It is now aiming to procure more supply for achieving its goal of vaccinating the entire population within 2021, the local newspaper Bangkok Post reported. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha, separately told a press conference that of the total new doses that Thailand plans to purchase, the private sector will help source nearly 10 to 15 million. It, however, remains unclear if the country will import Pfizer and BioNTech's doses.
“The ministry has planned vaccine deals since April 2020, giving priority to quality and safety. The Thai government has secured 63 million doses – 61 million from AstraZeneca and 2 million from Sinovac – to build national immunity, control the epidemic, and boost the economy,” Thai health ministry said in a statement.
Permanent Secretary of Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Kiattaphum Wongrajit told the newspaper that the vaccines will serve as another tool to provide national immunity which will help the administration to resume the economy faster. Therefore, Thai people were invited to receive a vaccination and were also requested to continue wearing a face mask, practicing social distancing, washing hands, and scanning the Thai Chana QR wherever they go to help avoid infection.
Thailand has been administering the jab in three phases. In its first phase, the country started vaccination for the high-risk elderly people; individuals at risk due to chronic diseases; people in five high-risk provinces of Samut Sakhon, Bangkok, Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi, and Samut Prakan with the China-manufactured Sinovac vaccine, approved by the FDA and the Department of Medical Sciences. In its second and third phases, Thailand plans to inoculate all the adults as it plans to hit 10 million doses each month, starting June.
The Government of Thailand, particularly, started a very rigorous vaccination campaign in the resort island of Phuket in order to kick start the stagnant tourism industry. The residents of Phuket were even allowed to jump the queue during the mass inoculation drive to speed up the Thai government’s goal of vaccinating at least 460,000 people by July 1, in order to fully reopen the island to overseas tourists latest by October. Phuket Tourism Association President, Bhummikitti Ruktaengam told CNA that the island economy has been in shambles due to the COVID-19 pandemic that grounded international air travel and induced fear for travel. Phuket residents have been losing hope.