Thailand starts long awaited COVID-19 vaccination drive

Thailand kicked off a long-awaited mass vaccination campaign on Monday as the country battles its third and worst wave of the coronavirus epidemic.

The government aims to administer 6 million doses this month, hoping to ease worries over the highly anticipated roll-out and concerns about supply shortages.

“The government will ensure that everyone is vaccinated,” Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said in televised comments after he visited an inoculation centre in Bangkok.

There were, however, early hiccups as some vaccine centres registered more than their quota, leading to postponements, senior health official Opas Karnkawinpong told a news conference.

“We apologise if your vaccination appointment was postponed, but will make sure you are registered at the earliest,” Opas said.

Hospitals last week delayed vaccinations for nearly 40,000 people, citing a limited supply.

Thailand escaped the worst of the coronavirus pandemic as it hit other countries hard last year, but is now grappling with its deadliest outbreak. Officials have scrambled to source more vaccines amid the third wave, which so far accounts for more than 80% of its 179,886 total infections and 1,269 fatalities.

Authorities on Monday said 235 cases of the B.1.617.2 variant, which ravaged India, had spread to nine provinces since it was first detected in Bangkok last month.

Source: Reuters