The Ministry of Public Health is considering the rollout of booster jabs for people vaccinated with the Sinopharm vaccine, while the vaccination panel has approved the second Pfizer jabs for teenage boys as heart inflammation risk remains low.
Thailand’s immunization subcommittee is considering a plan to offer a booster COVID-19 vaccine dose for people previously vaccinated with Sinopharm jabs, with the booster rollout expected to start as early as November.
The Department of Disease Control (DDC) Director-General Dr Opas Karnkawinpong said a similar principle to the booster dose rollout among people vaccinated with the Sinovac vaccine will be adopted, as both vaccines are inactivated virus vaccines.
The third dose of COVID-19 vaccine will be given 3-4 months after the second dose of the Sinopharm vaccine, meaning people who received their second Sinopharm jabs in July would need to get a booster dose in November.
The immunization subcommittee has requested supporting data from Chalabhorn Royal Academy, the sole organization offering Sinopharm jabs in Thailand, on the need for a booster dose.
The DDC chief said Thailand is expected to receive a total of 25 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines next month, namely 15 million doses from AstraZeneca, and 10 million doses from Pfizer-BioNTech.
He said the supply for the Sinovac vaccine is now running low and is expected to run out this month, adding that this inactivated vaccine provides a good first dose for boosting with another dose from other brands.
The immunization subcommittee has also agreed to proceed with the second dose administration of Pfizer jabs in teenage boys, as the benefits from enhanced immune protection against the Delta variant after the second dose greatly outweigh the risk of rare side effects.
The panel has sought expertise from pediatric cardiology experts, who find the possibility of heart inflammation after receiving the mRNA vaccine to be very low, and that the symptoms can go away without much intervention.
The immunization panel has stressed however that vaccination among children and adolescents must receive consent from the recipients themselves, as well as their guardians.
Some 68.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have so far been administered in Thailand, with around 27.5 million people having already received at least two doses. The DDC is confident the country can achieve the 100 million dose target by the end of this year. (NNT)