An opinion polls have revealed hesitancy has risen over getting vaccinated with the Thai governments choice of covid-19 vaccines. The hesitancy comes as the Thai government is just weeks away from starting its mass vaccination program with AstraZeneca and Sinovac vaccines.
Reasons for the rise in vaccine hesitancy in the polls remains unclear however there are widespread complaints at government disorganization, delays in getting vaccines and above all the governments reliance on Sinovac and locally made AstraZeneca vaccines.
Since the covid-19 pandemic began last year Thailand has reported 135,439 infections and 832 deaths.
According to Reuters in January, 83% of Thais surveyed by polling firm YouGov were willing to be vaccinated, but by May that dropped to 63% in the same poll, lower than Vietnam and the Philippines at 83% and 66% willingness, respectively.
Suan Dusit Poll on Sunday echoed the YouGov findings of rising vaccine hesitancy, with 64% of respondents willing to be vaccinated, compared with 66% in January.
Dissatisfaction with the military-backed government’s vaccine strategy has been building for months.
“People are worried about the vaccines that the government procured. It’s not that we don’t want to get shots, but there is hesitancy,” Facebook user Than Tongkum wrote under a Thai governments announcement encouraging vaccinations.
Majority of citizens want Pfizer covid-19 vaccine
Asked by Suan Dusit Poll for their views on Thai vaccinations, only 57% of respondents believed they would help develop immunity and reduce the virus impact, while 59% worried about side-effects.
With Thailand’s main vaccination drive, which is due to start June 7, relying heavily on AstraZeneca, respondents had 66% confidence in the shot, fourth behind US-developed vaccines, with Pfizer top at 75%.
The government aims to inoculate 70% of the population by year-end, a level tourist hotspots must also reach locally before reopening to vaccinated foreign visitors.
Registration is ongoing for the first 16 million people including those over 60 or with health conditions. So far, 7.8 million people have registered.
Government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said he believes the governments choice of covid-19 vaccines will be embraced once the vaccination program starts.
“As Thailand receives more doses, there will be more covid-19 vaccine sites, which will help create awareness among the public after they see large numbers of vaccinations do not lead to serious side effects,” he said.
Actress Araya “Chompoo” Hargate sparked controversy after she posted to her 10.5 million followers on Instagram saying she chose Sinovac. “Can’t help but think this is government PR,” wrote user iloveurdadmaybe.
Among the concerns is perception that Sinovac has a low efficacy rate.
“Just hearing that it’s Sinovac that’s only 50% safe and 50% effective,” wrote Facebook user Dang Juntawan.
“Injections are of chance. If you’re unlucky you’ll die.”