The ministry yesterday (Aug 2) said the sub-committee on disease immunity enhancement decided on Sunday to set up guidelines for 1,503,450 doses of Pfizer donated by the US that arrived in the country on Friday.
Some 700,000 doses will be given to medical staff. However, this number has raised questions among the public over the fairness of the vaccine distribution plan, because many medical personnel will miss the opportunity to get it because they don’t match the ministry’s criteria.
Dr Sira Wisetsak, the ministry’s deputy permanent secretary who is in charge of vaccine management, explained that all medical staff and frontline health workers at risk of being infected with COVID-19 will get the Pfizer vaccine. He said 700,000 doses was enough for all medical staff and frontline worker numbers.
“All medical staff and frontline workers, including rescuers and undertakers will get the vaccine under our criteria,” Dr Sira told the press conference.
“We believed our criteria covers all medical staff who are in need. And the number of vaccines can cover them all,” he said.
“If we have vaccines left, we will later consider allocating them to other groups in need,” he added.
Many civil society groups urged the department to give the Pfizer shot to all medical staff without any conditions because they are all at high risk of contracting COVID-19.
Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, chief of the Department of Disease Control, made it clear that medical staff, frontline workers, students and officers who have close contact with COVID-19 patients will get the vaccine if they have received one or two doses of Sinovac or Sinopharm.
Those who not received any vaccines will also be eligible for two full doses of Pfizer, he said.
However, he added that those who have received both Sinovac and AstraZeneca doses, or had AstraZeneca as a booster dose, are not recommended to have Pfizer.
“For these cases, they have a high level of immunity for the time being so there is no need to get Pfizer. But they should register so they will get the vaccine later when there is enough information about it to do so or if we get more Pfizer vaccines in the future,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dr Itthiporn Khanacharoen, secretary-general of the Medical Council of Thailand, voiced his appreciation about the subcommittee’s decision, saying that he would like to thank the ministry for listening to all concerned voices to create transparency.