COVID-19 vaccines have been developed globally in record time, but questions about the vaccines’ safety and efficacy are of concern to some people in Thailand. A recent poll published by Suan Dusit University found that 83% of the respondents (a total of 1,570) in Thailand are concerned about the COVID-19 vaccines’ side effects. And while 66% of Thais want to get the vaccine, they would like more information about the common reactions first, while 14% do not want to be vaccinated regardless of the information available. These opinions are concerning because mass vaccinations play a critical role in personal and public health.
When the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 first started to spread, almost nobody was immune. Vaccines have proven to be a powerful tool in fighting pandemics and protecting communities when a significant portion of the population is inoculated.
As of 18 February 2021, at least seven different vaccines have been rolled out in countries. In addition, more than 200 additional vaccine candidates are in development.
Thailand’s vaccine rollout
The Thai Ministry of Public Health has approved the first rollout to begin in February 2021 as part of a three-phase plan, starting with healthcare workers and vulnerable groups, such as the elderly and immune-compromised. The first phase will provide two million doses, covering one million people, as two doses are needed for the vaccines’ optimal efficacy. The second phase will take place from May to June, with 26 million doses planned for those in at-risk groups, and the third phase will be carried out in the second half of 2021 to protect the general population.
An additional layer of defense against COVID-19
While the COVID-19 vaccine campaign is currently underway in Thailand and across the world, it is essential that people strictly adhere to preventive measures: be sure to wear a mask in public, wash hands regularly, maintain social distancing and avoid crowded areas. In Thailand, the public uses an application to check-in when entering shops, restaurants, and service areas to enable contact tracing data.
For every country experiencing an increase in cases, many others like Thailand have successfully prevented and controlled widespread transmission with these proven measures. Those strategies continue to be an excellent defense against COVID-19, and the vaccine program in Thailand will provide an even more comprehensive approach for the population.
What we are doing
One of Kenan Foundation Asia’s aims is to promote communities’ well-being through our NextGen Aging services. We offered these services as part of the Pfizer Healthy Aging Society project. Kenan worked with frontline healthcare personnel, health volunteers, and the elderly to build the capacity of 230 healthcare workers who became change agents that encouraged healthy behavior changes in seniors living in disadvantaged communities in Bangkok and Ubon Ratchathani provinces.
Healthy behavior changes help reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases, which can significantly impair quality of life and lead to considerable costs for individuals and society. Kenan’s focus on increasing the health literacy of communities empowers individuals to maintain rewarding lifestyles. Our services cover non-communicable disease care and prevention, including good nutrition, mental and physical health care, and other issues crucial to healthy aging.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has brought unfathomable tragedies and challenges, past global pandemics have shown that we can have reason to be hopeful. With the right knowledge, technology, and skills, we can work together to get the pandemic under control, restore the Thai economy, and create a better future for the country.
Please contact Richard Bernhard at [email protected] if you would like to learn more about our health programs or to find out how you can support our NextGen aging services.
Supaporn Mahaphontrakoon, Health Project Manager, Kenan Foundation Asia
Jetnawat Salakkam, Public Health Consultant, Kenan Foundation Asia