11 July 2024

Thailand’s Ministry of Education has been making preparations for the mass inoculation of millions of students, aged 12-18, before the planned resumption of on-site classes at the start of the second semester, tentatively in November.

Education Permanent Secretary Supat Champathong said today (Wednesday) that there are about 4.35 million students at schools under the supervision of the offices of the Basic Education, the Vocational Education and the Office of Private Education commissions, who are to be inoculated on a voluntary basis, expected to commence in early October.

Two million doses of the Pfizer mRNA vaccine will be available by the end of September, with an additional eight million doses to arrive during October, he said.

The Disease Control Department will be in charge of sending the vaccine to Bangkok and 76 other provinces, after which they will be distributed to schools by the provincial administration and provincial communicable disease committee of the respective provinces.

Mr. Supat said that schools will be used as the vaccination sites but, if it is inconvenient for some schools, alternative sites are possible with prior consent from the provincial administration.

Before the commencement of the mass vaccinations, the education permanent secretary said that sessions will be held, from September 17-22, between officials and parents of students to establish an understanding of the importance of vaccinations, their safety and their efficacy.

Then, from September 22-24, each school will invite parents to give their consent to the vaccinations. The lists of students to receive jabs will be sent to the provincial administration of each province, so the Ministry of Education will have the full lists of students to be inoculated.

Inoculations will start on October 4th and the second jab will be administered three weeks later. If everything goes well, Mr. Supat said that schools will be ready for reopening for the second semester in November.

All schools in Thailand have been closed since the first semester of the 2021 academic year because of COVID-19 pandemic.  Online learning has been introduced, but the learning system has come under heavy fire from critics, because many poor students do not have the required tools, such as computers, laptops, smart phones or stable internet connections.  The quality of online teaching is also being questioned.