fatalities low vaccination of elderly matters of concern ahead of songkran - Fatalities, low vaccination of elderly matters of concern ahead of Songkran

A health worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer vaccine for the Covid-19 Coronavirus for high school students at Prachaniwet Secondary School in Bangkok on October 4, 2021. Lillian SUWANRUMPHA / AFP

Thailand’s Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) is concerned about the COVID-19 fatality rate in the Northeast, which is higher than in other regions, and the low vaccination rate among the elderly, said CCSA Spokesman Dr. Taweesin visanuyothin.

He said that 93% of fatalities are among the over 60s, especially in the north-eastern region, and many of them are afflicted with underlying diseases.

The three-dose vaccination rate among the elderly is still only 37%, while the remainder are yet to be inoculated or have fewer than three doses. Only about 1.9% of children between 5 and 11 have received two doses.

Dr. Taweesin dismissed fears of undesirable side effects from vaccines among the elderly, citing a report from the Epidemiology Division which shows that, out of 130 million doses administered, there were only 123 cases of serious side effects and 6 deaths, accounting for 0.9 and 0.04 cases per million doses respectively.

He disclosed that the CCSA, at its meeting today, approved in principle the plan of Public Health Ministry to procure Long-Acting Antibody (LAAB) medicine, which works like a vaccine and can boost immunity, especially in people with underlying diseases whose immunity cannot be boosted with traditional vaccines.

He said talks are underway with AstraZeneca to switch some of the AstraZeneca vaccine already procured by Thailand to LAAB medicine without extra cost.

The CCSA spokesman said that, currently, Thailand is in the combating phase and the long Songkran holiday will be a key factor in determining whether Thailand will get through it, with the numbers of new infections, severe cases and fatalities under control. He stressed the importance of full public compliance with safety measures during Songkran period.

Although daily infections and lung inflammations are on the rise, he said that hospital bed occupancy is still manageable, with room for more cases.