Central, Big C offer stores nationwide for vaccination centers

Medical personnel inoculate local officials with the Chinese-made Sinovac vaccine on April 21 at CentralPlaza Rayong. Photo: Central Group
Medical personnel inoculate local officials with the Chinese-made Sinovac vaccine on April 21 at CentralPlaza Rayong. Photo: Central Group

Department stores and supermarkets will join hospitals as inoculation centers once mass vaccination begins.

Mega mall developer Central Pattana has offered 23 of its 33 department stores nationwide to accelerate Thailand’s rush to herd immunity as the government negotiates for more imported vaccines just over a month before the first locally made doses are expected.

CEO Preecha Ekkunagul said the stores’ space make them safe for medical personnel and the public to proceed safely. He said the company would also support private sector efforts to find additional vaccine supplies.

CentralPlaza Rayong piloted the project last week by vaccinating local officials in partnership with Rayong Hospital. The retail and real estate giant certainly has its motivations – the controlling Chirathivat family lost roughly a third of its fortune, falling 11 places to 20th place in Bloomberg’s ranking of Asia’s wealthiest families.

BJC Group, the big folks behind Big C Supercenters, have offered up 54 branches of its big box stores for the same. It will also join forces – and hopefully large sums – with over 40 private companies to furnish enough vaccines for the 35 million people the government supply won’t cover to reach herd immunity of about 70% vaccination.

The cabinet today approved THB321 million (US$10.2 million) to buy another 500,000 doses of China’s Sinovac Biotech on top of the 2.5 million already purchased. Mass vaccination won’t begin until June at the earliest, when the royally owned Siam Bioscience is expected to roll out 6 million doses of AstraZeneca. After that, it expects to produce 10 million each month through the end of the year.

Both vaccines require two doses per person.

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