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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Everything you need to know about Covid vaccines in Thailand right now

Tim Newton

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Which Covid vaccines are available in Thailand?

Thailand’s FDA has licensed 3 Covid-19 vaccines – AztraZeneca/Oxford University, Sinovac from China and Johnson Johnson. Only the AztraZenaca and Sinovac vaccines are currently delivered and available in Thailand at this time. Others will likely be approved for use in Thailand in the next few months, including the Pfizer/Moderna mRNA vaccine (paperwork submitted) and Sputnik V from Russia.

Who imports the vaccines?

The Thai Government imports all vaccines and organises the distribution throughout the country. At this stage they have prevented private institutions or private hospitals from independently importing Covid vaccines. That situation could change as the government have publicised mixed messages about the issue in the past.

Who is receiving the vaccine now?

Whilst there has been delivery and distribution of vaccines up to date, there are more on the way with the intention of vaccinating around 70% of the Thai population by the end of the year. Only in Phuket has there been any major vaccination where a reported 22% of the island’s population has received at least one dose. The second most vaccinated province is Samut Sakhon, the hotzone for the late December 2020 outbreak. The rest of the country is still sitting at around 1% or less.

Are the vaccines safe?

Based on the evidence available, and the nearly 1.2 billion people now vaccinated, yes. Despite some noise on the internet, the vast majority of people receiving the approved vaccines for Covid 19 are not displaying any concerning side effects following vaccination. Like all vaccines, there will be a small number of people with adverse reactions but the numbers are statistically negligible compared to the risks of not having a vaccine at all.

Leading up to the Covid-19 pandemic there had been a lot of work done to research vaccines for coronaviruses. The onset of a worldwide pandemic certainly hastened a lot of the research and hardworking that had already been done. So the normal lead time for a completely new vaccine was drastically shortened.

As of today (May 6), 1.16 billion people in the world have now been vaccinated – well on the way to a major milestone in the fight against Covid-19.

Be careful when consuming information on the internet and check the source of the information. If you have never heard of the source of the information before, Google them and check their credentials. There is, sadly, a lot of nonsense being published across the internet. Caveat emptor.

Who is being targeted for vaccination?

Healthcare professionals and people in the healthcare sector, populations in outbreak areas, elderly and people with pre-existing medical conditions. The vast majority of people are Thai with only a small group of expats vaccinated – mostly working in the education sector.

The news for foreigners receiving a vaccination keeps changing. As it stands the foreign population are at the bottom of the list with no definitive policy on how or when Thailand’s foreign population will be vaccinated.

What does the vaccination cost?

The vaccine is free to Thais, fully paid for by the Thai government through its public health system. There are no privately available vaccines at the moment, for payment or otherwise.

When will expats be able to expect the vaccine?

We simply don’t know at the moment. The situation is very dynamic with foreign embassies being challenged to help their citizens. At this stage they are refusing to provide any assistance, across the board, regarding helping with vaccination of their citizens.

The Thaiger will report the latest information about this issue, accurately and in a timely manner.

Can I still go to hospital or clinics for other medical situations?

Absolutely. And you should still keep any regular appointment you may have had before this current outbreak. But it’s also a good time to think ahead and stock up on any vital medications and keep the phone number of your physician at hand. Take appropriate precaution if you need to visit a Thai hospital at this time and understand that there may be longer waiting times than usual.

If you have private health insurance you should be using the services of a private hospital at this time rather than overloading Thailand’s public health system.

Can I travel to Thailand at this time?

Yes. There are visas available and the borders are technically “open”. But there are still hoops to jump through and paperwork to prepare. DON’T make any booking for flights or ASQ hotels, or anything else for that matter, until you have spoken to the Thai embassy in your home country, even if you intend to travel from another part of the world.

 

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Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2012. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for 41 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program (public radio Australia), presented over 11,000 radio news bulletins, 3,900 in Thailand alone, hosted 950 daily TV news programs and produced 2,100 videos, TV commercials and documentaries. He also reported for CNN, Deutsche Welle TV, CBC, Australia's ABC TV and Australian radio during the 2018 Cave Rescue and other major stories in Thailand. As founder of The Thaiger in 2016, Tim is the current CEO for company, based in Bangkok.

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