6 June 2024

Many Thai people, including about six million senior citizens, are still not vaccinated with third COVID-19 vaccine because they are either concerned about the possible side effects or think that a booster jab is unnecessary, according to Dr. Taweesap Siraprapasiri, a specialist at the Department of Disease Control.

He said, however, that 43% of elderly people have received three doses of vaccine, while only about 40% of other age groups have received three.

If Thailand is to open its doors wider to overseas arrivals and if it does not want hospitals to be packed with severe cases again, he stressed the need for Thai people to be vaccinated with three doses in whichever combination, such as Sinovac-Sinovac-AstraZeneca or AstraZeneca-AstraZeneca-Pfizer, noting that the efficacy of the two formulae in preventing severe symptoms is the same.

Dr. Taweesap presented findings from a study of data conducted by a working team at the Ministry of Public Health between January and March, during Omicron outbreak, on 500,000 people who have received two, three or four doses, to determine their chances of falling sick or whether they actually did. The findings are as follows:

  • Two vaccine shots have the least efficacy in preventing Omicron infection, but are 75% effective in preventing severe symptoms which require ventilators.
  • Three vaccine jabs are 15% effective in preventing Omicron infection, but are 93% effective in preventing severe symptoms which require ventilators.
  • Four vaccine jabs are 76% effective in preventing Omicron infection, but are 99% effective in preventing severe symptoms that require ventilators.

Dr. Taweesap said that the Public Health Ministry continues to campaign to urge people to get three vaccine doses or more, to boost their immunity against infection or risk of becoming severely sick, as he claimed that there has not yet been a fatality in Thailand among those who have received four vaccine doses.

He maintained that all the COVID-19 vaccines used in Thailand are safe and are effective in preventing severe symptoms or death.

He further said that COVID-19 cannot be completely eradicated and people will have to learn to live with it safely.