The Ministry of Public Health has issued the latest vaccination guideline for adolescents aged 12-18. Boys in this age group will get a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine, as health officials are waiting for more concrete data about possible side effects.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is currently the only COVID-19 vaccine provided to this age group.
In the new guideline, girls will be fully vaccinated with two doses about three weeks apart, while boys will receive only one dose initially, as health authorities need to monitor possible side effects like heart inflammation.
Myocarditis which is an inflammation of the heart muscle, or pericarditis which is the inflammation of the outer lining of the heart, were reported as rare side effects from COVID-19 vaccination using mRNA vaccines, particularly among younger men and teenage boys.
The Department of Disease Control (DDC) Director-General Dr Opas Karnkawinpong said these conditions are more commonly found in teenage boys aged 12-17 years old after receiving their second dose of the mRNA vaccine, generally at the ratio of 6 cases for every 100,000 people.
In Thailand, 4 cases of heart inflammation have already been reported among 130,000 vaccine recipients.
The DDC chief said the conditions are usually mild, with recipients being able to recover on their own. He stressed that the benefits from vaccination still outweigh the risks.
Thailand’s vaccination drive for 12- to 18-year-olds is being organized mainly through schools. Students who are older than 18 years of age, but are active students, will also receive the Pfizer jab, whereas university students who are under 18 years old can ask for their jabs at provincial halls.
Homeschooled students will receive their jabs via provincial administration, who will be arranging vaccination appointments at a later stage. This vaccination campaign also covers students of other nationalities.
Thailand received the first delivery of the government-bought Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty vaccine in late September at 2 million doses. It earlier received 1.5 million doses of this mRNA vaccine donated by the United States.
The delivery of another 1.5 million Pfizer doses is scheduled for Wednesday, to be followed by another 1.5 million doses next week, bringing the total to 5 million doses.
Dr Opas said the rate of vaccination among teachers is between 80% and 90%. The vaccine drive will continue until 100% of teachers are vaccinated.
Despite high vaccination coverage among teachers and the vaccination drive for students, Dr Opas said schools will need to continue observing safety measures in order to prevent new clusters of COVID. (NNT)