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American expats to US government: give us vaccines!

Neill Fronde

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With the visit of US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy R. Sherman, a collection of high-profile American expats living in Thailand released an open letter asking for Covid-19 vaccines. The letter pled with the US government to include arrangements to guarantee vaccines to all US expats in the kingdom.

“Don’t abandon us! The US continues to have a growing vaccine surplus, yet many Americans abroad are still without access to vaccines and their lives are at risk.”

The letter is a collaboration between Democrats Abroad Thailand chair Paul Risley, Republicans Overseas Asia vice president Tony Rodriguez, American Women’s Club of Thailand president Ambreen Miraly, and Veterans of Foreign Wars commander Carl Manchester. The groups are advocating for vaccines for expats who are struggling to get access during Thailand’s slow rollout. While only 3.5% of people in Thailand have been vaccinated, more than half the people in the US have received 1 jab and 40% have been fully vaccinated.

Surmising that talks between PM Prayut Chan-o-cha and Deputy Secretary Sherman would include plenty of discussion of the US helping Thailand with procuring vaccines, the letter pushed to include an allotment for American citizens as part of the agreement. The US pledged US $30 million in Covid-19 vaccine aid and cited its surplus of vaccines and intention to distribute them to countries struggling to inoculate their population.

The letter observed that as China supplies a majority of vaccines to Thailand, they included in their recent donation a provision guaranteeing Chinese citizens access to be vaccinated. The American groups urge a similar clause in aid from the United States. They made a point that the US government charges taxes to its citizens, even when they live abroad, a policy different from almost every other country in the world and as such deserve access to the taxpayer-funded vaccines all other Americans are receiving.

On the Democrats Abroad website, an article urges Americans to use the #TaxedButNotVaxxed hashtag on social media and includes a form letter to send to government representatives. The letter acknowledges President Biden’s frequent words about all Americans working together and getting vaccinated, and highlights vaccines made available to US State Department staff worldwide, veterans in Manila, and plans to vaccinate South Korean soldiers.

The letter asks for vaccines for all of the 9 million Americans living overseas and asks that US vaccine surplus donations to countries should include vaccines for US citizens. The article quoted Joe Biden in a recent speech where he stressed that all Americans around the world are dealing with Covid-19 together.

“Let’s remember, we’re all Americans. Let’s remember that we are all in this together…And we have to take this pandemic, tackle it not just here, but overseas as well to truly be safe in the long run.”

For more discussion and insight into the American expats’ struggle for help getting vaccinated, check out today’s episode of Good Morning Thailand where Tim and Bill discuss the matter with their guest Peter from Democrats Aboard.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10 years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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