The move followed Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday (May 11) voicing concern during the cabinet meeting that the number of people who have registered for vaccinations with the government was below target.
So far, more than 1.6 million people aged 60 and above and those with seven types of underlying health conditions have signed up for vaccines.
Of this number, more than 500,000 were in Bangkok and over 200,000 others were in the northern province of Lampang.
Sopon Mekthon, assistant to the public health minister in his capacity as chairman of the government’s sub-committee on COVID-19 vaccination management, said the mass vaccination drive aimed to curb the serious outbreak in the capital, after a meeting of the sub-committee at the ministry yesterday.
Dr Sopon said the ministry will use both Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines during the mass inoculation campaign in Bangkok, adding that an additional 2.5 million doses of the Sinovac jab and 1.7 million doses of the AstraZeneca shot will be delivered to the country this month.
The ministry plans to use parts of Bang Sue Railway Central Station as a vaccination hub and to administer 100,000 doses per day in Bangkok.
In Bangkok, people aged over 18 years are eligible to receive COVID vaccines. However, they must not have any medical contraindications that might endanger them.
Dr Sopon went on to say that he was also confident that from next month, each month there will be 10 million more doses of COVID-19 vaccines available.
“So, we want every province to keep accelerating their vaccination programme,” he said.
Sopon Iamsirithaworn, deputy director-general of the Disease Control Department, said the residents targeted included migrants and residents who aren’t registered in the capital.
As of now, only 5% of the capital’s residents have been vaccinated, he said.
Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said the government now aims to get 70% of the entire population, or about 50 million people, vaccinated against COVID-19 by December.
The government has now set expanding its mass COVID-19 vaccination programme to cover more groups of people as a national agenda item, aiming to reach herd immunity against the coronavirus.
Prime Minister Prayut said he proposed at yesterday’s cabinet meeting to scale up the country’s procurement, distribution and injections of COVID-19 vaccines.
“I’d like to invite everyone to come for a [COVID-19] vaccine. We need to vaccinate as many people as possible so that Thailand will be able to move forward,” said Gen Prayut.
“All types of [COVID-19] vaccines the government has imported are effective, certified by the Public Health Ministry, used widely around the world on tens of millions of people including many country leaders,” the prime minister said.
All of these COVID-19 vaccines have been proven to be almost 100% effective in preventing deaths associated with severe symptoms of COVID-19 infection, while the side effects of them are very minor, especially compared to the risk of death from actual infection, he said.
“I myself, the entire cabinet and other government and opposition lawmakers have all been injected with these vaccines without experiencing any [serious] side-effects,” he said.