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Thailand rolls out 4th Covid shot before borders reopen

As Thailand prepares for the reopening of its borders next month, the Thai government is speeding up the distribution of 4th Covid shot to people residing in tourism-dependent areas.

AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccinations are being offered in 10 provinces to people who have got their third dosage at least three months ago, according to the Public Health Ministry.

According to official figures, authorities have already given out over 800,000 4th Covid shots, largely to healthcare personnel and people in high-risk categories.

Initially, the ministry intended to give 4th Covid shots exclusively to medical and public health personnel, as well as those in vulnerable categories.

Thailand rolls out 4th Covid shot
Thai resort island of Phuket rushes to vaccinate its population before it reopens to tourists on February 1.

On Sunday, however, deputy government spokesperson Rachada Dhnadirek said the Department of Disease Control expects to deliver 4th Covid shots to the general population in ten regions, including four major tourist destinations and six others with high infection rates.

Phuket, Surat Thani, Krabi, and Phangnga are the four tourism-dependent provinces. Bangkok, Chonburi, Samut Prakan, Nonthaburi, Kanchanaburi, and Pathum Thani are the other six, which are either tourist attractions or provinces with high infection rates.

The goal of the government is to vaccinate 2.5 million people in these areas, including Thais and foreigners/expats

The two main cross-vaccine formulations, according to the government, are:

  • those who received Sinovac for the first two doses and AstraZeneca for the third dosage should take AstraZeneca for the 4th Covid shot
  • those who have had two AstraZeneca doses and one Pfizer follow-up should have Pfizer as the 4th Covid shot.

Thailand is one of a small group of nations giving the 4th Covid shot, which also includes Chile and Israel.

Officials claimed the introduction of a 4th Covid shot will enhance the country’s attempts to safeguard local people while also restarting its tourism economy. Starting on February 1, the government will resume its quarantine-free tourist Test & Go program, which brought in 350,000 visitors in two months before being briefly halted owing to fears about the Omicron variant’s spread.

4th Covid shot distribution starts in Phuket

On Monday, Vachira Phuket Hospital deputy director Withita Jaeng-iam said that frontline health workers in the government and private sectors had begun getting their 4th Covid shot.

Last week, medical workers began receiving their 4th Covid shot, according to Dr. Withita.

Another 4,000 people were scheduled to get vaccinated at the vaccination center at the gymnasium building at Saphan Hin on Monday. The program would subsequently be expanded to include adults over the age of 60 as well as those with underlying health issues.

Thailand rolls out 4th Covid shot
A man receives his Covid-19 vaccine

“From the data base, about 60,000 have registered for a 4th Covid shot. About 10,000 can register [using the official website]. Those who have already received three doses can register.

“Vaccination of children aged 5-11 will begin in February. The vaccine for them has not yet arrived,” she said.

Based on a goal of 547,584, a total of 481,762 persons in Phuket (87.98%) had received the first dosage, 467,676 (85.41%) the second, 293,400 (53.58%) the third, and 7,180 (2.45%) the 4th Covid shot as of Jan 17.

On January 16, Phuket detected 522 new infections, with 398 coming from within the island, 102 from the sandbox scheme, and 22 through Test & Go.

According to Dr. Withita, the number of new cases every day varied between 400 and 500. Field hospitals were now occupied to the tune of 40% and hostels to the tune of 80%. Approximately 2,000 patients were placed in home isolation.

She estimated that around half of the hospital beds intended for patients suffering from significant symptoms were occupied. Because more patients had been vaccinated, some were in intensive care units (ICUs) but were not on ventilators.

New clusters of Covid-19 cases were discovered, according to Dr. Withita. They included newcomers from other countries, as well as residents of densely populated areas or patrons of busy establishments such as pubs, taverns, and restaurants.

The Covid-19 situation in Phuket was still controllable in general. People were nevertheless expected to follow mask-wearing, hand-washing, and social distancing guidelines, as well as submit to antigen test kits on a regular basis.

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