Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health expects students nationwide to receive a complete set of two doses of Pfizer vaccines prior to the official start of ‘on-site’ learning at schools nationwide by November 15th.
Suphat Champatong, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, today, September 16th, revealed the progress in allocating the Pfizer vaccine to students aged 12-18 in that the Public Health Ministry will kick off the allocation plan by initially ordering all educational institutions to prepare names and the number of students while meeting with relevant agencies to provide allocation information and mutual understanding towards the vaccine on September 10th to the 17th.
On 17-22 September, educational institutions will hold an understanding meeting with parents regarding the children’s vaccination. On September 22-24, educational institutions will invite parents to sign a consent form for their children to receive vaccinations. On that day, the schools will know the exact number of students who agreed to receive injections.
TPN media notes it is not clear what will happen to children whose parents do not consent and if they will not be allowed to attend in-person school.
Suphat stated: “If the process is in accordance with the timeline, the first injection will begin in the first week of October and some children will receive the second dose at the end of October. All registered students are expected to gradually receive the second shot by November 15th, resulting in some schools in dark-red zone provinces being able to start on-site classes as early as November 1st.”
“And if the students’ vaccination goes according to plan, it is expected that all educational institutes nationwide under the Office of the Basic Education Commission (OBEC) and under the Office of Vocational Education Commission (VEC) can fully operate the on-site learning by November 15th.”
TPN media notes that although schools are running in some parts of the country, mostly rural areas, in other “dark red” provinces that have been the epicenter of infections of Covid-19 school has been out for almost six months and will be seven months by the time students would, under the proposal, be allowed to return to school.
The proposal also aims for 100% of teachers and staff, including foreign teachers, to be vaccinated as well as regular testing of students at schools. It is also not yet crystal clear what happens to a student who tests positive or if it would lead to a “knee jerk” reaction of shutting down entire schools or districts, despite high vaccination levels and the fact that most students are asymptomatic.
The Ministry of Public Health has also not clarified plans for younger children at this time, other than mentioning that relevant Thai government agencies are continuing to look at the possibility of allowing Sinopharm vaccine injections on children three and older, but needs further research and approval from the Thai FDA. Early proposals suggest regular, if not daily, antigen testing for students too young to get a vaccine.
This proposal is meant to be combined with comprehensive plans on keeping schools safe, including temperature checks, required mask-wearing, social distancing, and other precautions.
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