The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) is working to acquire more vaccines from the Labour and Public Health ministries as well as the Chulabhorn Royal Academy to speed up vaccination for factory workers as Covid-19 infections spread at plants.
The FTI made urgent requests to Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul and Labour Minister Suchart Chomklin during a meeting on Thursday after only 10% of workers have been vaccinated under an inoculation scheme for workers insured under Section 33 of the Social Security Act.
“We told them there are 10 million workers in the industrial sector,” said FTI chairman Supant Mongkolsuthree.
The government’s vaccination scheme for factory workers is progressing more slowly than planned.
Authorities said earlier they would distribute 1 million vaccine doses to workers covered by Section 33 in June and 1.5 million doses in July, but the government had only 600,000-700,000 doses in June and an estimate of 800,000 doses in July, Mr Supant said.
The FTI is not relying on the state’s inoculation scheme and procured 300,000 doses of Chinese-made Sinopharm through the Chulabhorn Royal Academy, which it has started administering to workers.
However, this amount is insufficient and the federation is talking with the academy about more imports.
The FTI asked each factory to conduct Covid-19 tests for at least 20% of total workers by using rapid antigen test kits, Mr Supant said.
The testing is in addition to the “bubble and seal” measure. According to media reports, the measure aims at restricting travel among workers. This means workers may need to stay in factories or travel between their dormitories and workplaces. This measure should be adopted by large factories with more than 200 workers, said the FTI.