By THE NATION
Dr Suwanchai Wattanayingcharoen, director-general of the Department of Disease Control, said his office has predicted that the country will be hit hard by flu this year.
For the first four months of the year, there have been 152,185 influenza cases – 10 of whom have died, Suwanchai said. During the height of the drought season in January and February, 46,648 people were affected and four died.
He added that as many as 200,000 flu patients are expected this year, up from last year’s 185,829 flu patients and 32 deaths.
Every year, the department provides influenza vaccines to two groups: those in the medical profession whose work exposes them to the virus; members of a “risky” sub-group that includes small children, pregnant women, elderly persons, obese people and those with chronic ailments. The budget for the first group is provided by the department, while the second group is covered by the National Heath Security Office (NHSO).
This year, the NHSO has imported 400,000 vaccines worth Bt400 million, and began providing flu shots from late April, he said.
For the 2020 fiscal year, the National Vaccine Institute’s immunisation promotion sub-panel has agreed to include an estimated 9.6 million Prathom 1 to Mathayom 6 students in the free vaccination programme. The cost of the 9.6 million doses will be around Bt1 billion, Suwanchai said.