Thailand kicks off vaccinations for school students

BANGKOK, Oct 4 (Reuters) - Thailand rolled out COVID-19 vaccines to high school students for the first time on Monday, as it seeks to boost its immunisation rate ahead of a planned school reopening next month.

About 88% of high school students aged 12-18 in the capital Bangkok had signed up for the vaccine, city authorities said. Nationwide, 3.6 million of more than 5 million eligible students have registered, according to official figures.

"I want the situation to return to normal because I want to return to school," said Puwarit Chinnaburanasophon, 16.

Thailand has vaccinated about 31% of its more than 66 million people against COVID-19 and has eased many restrictions in Bangkok, where infection numbers have declined lately.

It is in a rush to boost that inoculation rate, so it can safely welcome back foreign visitors following 18 months of restrictions that contributed to the collapse of its vital tourism sector.

Following several other countries, Thailand will administer the mRNA vaccine developed by Pfizer (PFE.N) and BioNTech in schools.

Bangkok's governor, Aswin Kwanmuang, hopes the required two doses can be completed by the end of October.

"We have high hopes that by that time, the new cases will slow down, so students can return to school again," he said.

Student Lalita Sawatsupron said she was a little apprehensive about the vaccine.

"Today I'm getting my first Pfizer vaccine shot because I just turned 15 years old, so I'm qualified. I'm quite nervous," she said.

Reporting by Jiraporn Kuhakan; Editing by Martin Petty and Susan Fenton

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