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US is “unable” to provide Covid-19 vaccines to Americans who live overseas

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Photo via Facebook/กรุงเทพมหานคร โดยสำนักงานประชาสัมพันธ์

The United States Department of State is “unable” to provide Covid-19 vaccines to Americans who are currently overseas as the US government’s global vaccine effort focuses on distributing millions of vaccines to countries seriously impacted by the pandemic, the Embassy of the US in Thailand Charge d’Affaires Michael Heath wrote in a statement addressed to Americans in Thailand.

The US Department of State is unable to provide vaccines to the millions of Americans who reside outside of the United States. For those who wish to return to the United States to be vaccinated, information on vaccine availability at the state level is available at www.vacines.gov.

Meanwhile, as Thailand pursues its vaccination program, I will continue to advocate for your equitable access, keeping in mind that many Thai citizens are also waiting for their own vaccines. 

In a global effort, the Biden-Harris Administration is sharing 80 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to countries across the world within this month and another 500 million doses by next year. The first round of 25 million doses will soon be released to various countries. Of those doses, 7 million will go to countries in Asia, including Thailand. The doses are not set aside for American expats. Heath says the vaccines will go to the countries most seriously affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Across the world, many countries are grappling with surges in COVID-19 cases and emerging variants among largely unvaccinated populations, requiring this crisis to be resolved on a global basis.  Our government is therefore taking a methodical, equitable, and science-based approach to direct vaccine doses to the most seriously afflicted countries.

Expats are included in Thailand’s nationwide vaccination campaign, which started earlier this month with the Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines. A number of Americans who work in Thailand as English teachers have been vaccinated under the programme.

While the Thai government has said all foreigners are included in the national immunisation campaign, many foreign residents have reported problems with attempts to register for a vaccine appointment. Also, the registration website for foreign residents, thailandintervac.com, had a data leak where personal details, such as names and passport numbers, were exposed. The website now says the current round of vaccination appointments is full.

As of today, 8% of the population in Thailand have received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine with around 8.1 million doses of the vaccine administered since February 28, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Natapanu Nopakun, who gives Thailand’s daily Covid report in English. The islands of Phuket and Koh Samui were given priority in the early stages of the vaccination campaign as the government plans to reopen the tourist destinations next month to vaccinated travellers from overseas.

Heath says the US Embassy in Thailand will continue to advocate for fair access to the Covid-19 vaccines to foreign residents. The embassy also set up an email account, covidbkk@state.gov, for vaccine-related information and comments. 

We continue to advocate with the Royal Thai Government for fair access to vaccines by our citizens. We are heartened by Thai government commitments to vaccinate Americans and other foreign nationals who reside here, just as Thai and other nationals are receiving vaccinations with ease in the United States.

Some countries are providing vaccines for expats in Thailand. Today, the Embassy of France in Thailand started a Covid-19 vaccine campaign for French nationals ages 55 and older. French expats receive their free inoculation of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine at one of the 8 Bangkok Hospital locations including Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket and Koh Samui.

Chinese citizens in Thailand were able to be vaccinated under Beijing’s “Spring Sprout” global immunisation programme. China had donated 500,000 doses of its Sinovac vaccine to Thailand, and then Thailand then agreed to vaccinate Chinese expats. Around 150,000 Chinese nationals live in Thailand.

The letter from the US Embassy in Thailand comes after numerous calls for the US to provide vaccines to Americans overseas. Democrats Abroad Thailand was a prominent group pushing for vaccines to be provided by the US government to Americans in Thailand. Following the letter from the US Embassy, the group made a post on Twitter saying…

@USEmbassyBKK responds to Americans in #Thailand about lack of #Covid19 vaccines with more of the same: @StateDept won’t take care of Americans overseas, & oh, hope #Thai gov’t figures it out soon. Not what we wanted to hear. No taxation w/o vaccination! 

To read the full letter from Charge d’Affaires Michael Heath, click HERE.

For more information on Covid-19 Insurance, CLICK HERE.

 

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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