Okay, it’s free, but you have no choice. Thai health minister, Khun Anutin Charnvirakul, said people will have no choice as to which Covid19 vaccine they receive.
Amid widespread criticism of the slow introduction of vaccines in Thailand, the Health Minister discussed the process of approving vaccines for distribution within Thailand. Many are concerned about the potential side effects of the different vaccines.
But the minister stated that people who apply for vaccination will be given the most suitable option for their population. No vaccine selection is made in free vaccination centers. The health minister stressed that people will receive a vaccine and that every Covid19 vaccine administered in Thailand has been checked by a vaccine safety committee.
Currently, the Sinovac vaccine is the most widely used vaccine in Thailand and is mainly used by medical professionals, frontline workers and immigration officials. Sinovac requires two doses 3 weeks apart. The Pfizer vaccine is still in the evaluation process, although the Health Minister stated that if this vaccine is approved for use in Thailand, it would be the ideal choice for young people 12-18 years old as shown in trails.
The minister said Thailand is ready to register Covid-19 vaccines from all manufacturers and that the government is not blocking any particular brand. However, the process before vaccines can be administered within the limits involves the manufacturer registering their vaccine by submitting the required documents to the Food and Drug Administration. The government then evaluates the vaccine and approves the registration once it has been found to be safe.
Currently, only Sinovac and AstraZeneca are available in Thailand, although many manufacturers are pushing for the FDA approval process. The Thai government plans to suspend these two vaccine manufacturers to confirm a rapid delivery schedule. The problem with importing vaccines in bulk is that the doses are needed worldwide, including in the home countries of the vaccine manufacturers, which, more understandably, take precedence.
A second Chinese vaccine manufacturer, Sinopharm, has just met with the health minister but has not yet started import negotiations. The US vaccine Moderna is also making its way through the registration process after filing the documents with the FDA and now awaiting approval.