With mass vaccination finally underway, one demographic hangs in an uncertain balance for vaccines more than any other: Thailand’s 3 million expats. After months of back and forth with foreigners being told they will get vaccines, then they wouldn’t, then they’d have to pay, then they’d have to wait until after all Thais, and finally that all expats would be vaccinated alongside Thais as a part of the vaccine rollout.
And now confusion still swirls around how exactly foreigners are able to get a Covid-19 vaccine. While countless government officials have claimed that expats can get their jabs now, the actual steps they need to take are very unclear. A government spokesman has even now told foreigners to just hang on and await further instructions.
Foreigners are being told they can get a vaccine, but they can’t just show up to vaccine centres, they need to check the details and arrangements before going to any site, as plans are procedures are different for foreigners in different locations.
Starting June 7, older expats over 60 or having one of the 7 chronic diseases that are deemed high-risk for Covid-19 infections can register online for vaccines. Foreigners must provide a social security number connected to a passport or work permit. The US Embassy has suggested that Americans contact whatever local hospital has medical records for them.
Problems have been reported, with 2 senior expats of 40 years reported being given an appointment for their vaccines on January 1, 1970. Others have reported additional problems in registering to get a vaccine and suspect the system is overwhelmed.
The director-general of the Disease Control Department stated that Thailand’s goal is to give 100 million vaccines to 50 million people, about 70% of Thailand’s 67 million Thais and 3 million expats. Staff from international organisations in Thailand and diplomats were instructed to register last week and got first priority, with vaccines already being administered in Bangkok at Vimut Hospital and MedPark Hospital.
Provinces are launching their own individual vaccine systems, and for expats in tourist destinations like Koh Samui, Phuket, Chiang Mai and Hua Hin, there are often entirely different systems for foreigners to register for vaccines. Businesses can make vaccine appointments with the Social Security Office for any foreign staff. The priority and schedule for vaccines are also determined by each province.
Vaccination for foreigners is still confusing and widely varied in different provinces, but nationwide, vaccination centres are administering Sinovac and AstraZeneca jabs, with most centres offering one of the other, not a choice. Both vaccines have been approved for emergency use by the World Health Organisation.
The Private Hospital Association has plans to import Moderna vaccines, but it will not be available until around October most likely. The price for full vaccination had been originally estimated at 3,000 baht but has been revised to 3,800 baht including 2 vaccines, side effect insurance, and service fees.
A few resources for vaccine appointments mentioned in this article:
Diplomats – ThailandIntervac.com/diplomats
Foreigners over 60 or with a medical condition – ThailandIntervac.com
Chiang Mai – wallofcm.chiangmaihealth.go.th
Phuket – xn--12cmj6ba0a7b3g4a6fud5d2a.com
SOURCE: Thai PBS World