Children are randomly tested for on-site lessons in the new term

On Wednesday, students receive a dose of the Pfizer vaccine at Surasak Montree School in Bangkok. (Photo: Arnun Chonmahatrakool)

Random antigen tests will be carried out among schoolchildren before the start of the new term next month, deputy government spokeswoman Rachada Dhnadirek said.

Tests will be carried out every two weeks with 10 to 15% of returning students as well as other young people aged 12 to 18, some of whom have been vaccinated.

Ms Rachada said the antigen test would build confidence among students and parents before classes resumed on November 1.

Since the nationwide launch of Pfizer vaccines for people aged 12 to 18 on October 7, 150,190 have received their first dose and 1,825 have had both injections.

There are approximately five million people between the ages of 12 and 18. Of these, 3.8 million were targeted for vaccination.

Ms. Rachada added that the government was aware that some young people were worried about their safety. Some have turned to the video-sharing social network TikTok to voice their doubts.

To allay their fears, Ms Rachada insisted the vaccine met global manufacturing standards and had been approved for use by the World Health Organization as well as the Thai Food and Drug Administration.

Although the Pfizer vaccine can cause unwanted side effects such as muscle pain, fatigue, and nausea, and possibly conditions such as myocarditis, its benefits in preventing or reducing serious infections and hospitalization. outweighed the risks, she said.

Many countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Spain and Norway have vaccinated their young.

Pfizer-BioNTech is seeking approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the use of its vaccine on children aged 5 to 11, Ms. Rachada said.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DoH) has recommended that schools perform regular antigen testing after the start of the new term and students return to class.

DoH deputy director general Sarawut Boonsuk said 68 schools across the country have piloted safe zones in the past two to three months, and tough measures are creating a Covid-free environment in schools.

One measure was that businesses and stores located within 10 meters of a school fence should be assessed for their Covid-19 risks.

In addition, classes should be limited to a maximum of 25 students and at least 85% of teachers and non-teaching staff should be fully immunized.

According to the department, from June 14 to September 30, a total of 222,188 children up to the age of 9 were infected nationwide. Of these, 60,928 were 6 years or younger, 65,889 were between 7 and 12 years old and 95,371 were between 13 and 19 years old.

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