PM apologizes (again) for jab postponements, promises more vaccines

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Tuesday apologized again for the widespread postponements of vaccination appointments across the country, and for misunderstandings surrounding the government’s vaccine management, while making promises of more vaccines to be delivered to fulfill the goal of having 70% of the population vaccinated by year end.

Last week, he offered his apologies as postponements were made at the start of the mass inoculation campaign nationwide on June 7th.

In his Facebook post today, the prime minister said he takes full responsibility for all the problems adding, however, that a problem may occur any time, especially during the initial period when COVID-19 vaccines are limited.

He offered reassurance, however, that the government has procured enough vaccines for every Thai national, will achieve the target of procuring 100 million doses for 50 million people this year and will procure additional vaccines for the next year.

Regarding the chain of command and responsibility, he said the CCSA is the highest authority to set policy and guidelines for the allocation of vaccines, under which every province will receive vaccines proportionate to its population, with extra vaccines being allocated in the case of a pandemic or for economic, tourism or other necessities.

On the second level is the Ministry of Public Health, which is responsible for allocating how much vaccine is sent to each province, after the arrival of each batch of vaccines.  The vaccines will then be delivered to the provinces immediately.

On the third level, he said each province will decide which hospital or vaccination venue will receive what amount of vaccine and will have them delivered rapidly, adding that vaccines arrive in instalments, not six million or ten doses in one time.

Then there is the formula for vaccine distribution, said the prime minister.

Upon the arrival of vaccines, from abroad or locally-produced sources, he said the Ministry of Public Health will immediately distribute them to all provinces.  He noted, however, that in the future, some provinces may not receive vaccines from every batch received, if they have already received sufficient vaccine or if there is no urgent need for them.

The number of doses to be distributed to each province is determined by the population, the number of infections, the number of people who have subscribed to Mor Prom app, the number in high-risk groups or economic importance of each province.

If the amount received by each province is insufficient, elderly people and those afflicted with underlying diseases should be given priority.

If it is necessary to postpone vaccination appointments, there is no need for reregistration and the previous appointments should carried forward.

The prime minister admitted that a problem in vaccine management is that the delivery of the vaccines from the production sources is not definite or cannot be fixed and this is not confined to Thailand, but is a worldwide issue.

He pointed out, however, that Thailand has an advantage, in that the AstraZeneca vaccine is produced in Thailand by Siam Bioscience.

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