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Desparate expats in Thailand turn to vaccine tourism

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Vaccine Tourism is growing in popularity among frustrated expats. (via Flickr - Jernej Furman)

Travelling overseas just to get a prick used to have a much more negative connotation. But with limited supplies and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines in Thailand, many expats are turning towards vaccine tourism, travelling to another country in order to secure a jab. With recent reports that Thai people will be prioritized and timelines vague for foreigners getting vaccinated, impatient expats are looking at where they can travel that would allow them to get vaccinated. The United States is a popular destination among other countries with faster vaccination processes.

Yesterday the Thai Ministry of Public Health declared that Thai people will get priority for Covid-19 vaccines after reports that foreigners got appointments using the Mor Prom Line account even though a Thai ID is required. The Health Minister even went further by saying there were no plans to give expats free vaccines and that foreigners could go to private hospitals and pay for jabs in the future when there is a surplus of the vaccine.

The date of this future surplus is unknown with the process to import vaccines being very complicated. Many manufacturers only sell to government agencies and even those that will sell to private hospitals or companies still have to jump through the hoops of the Food and Drug Authority and other health authorities. 2 months is the minimum timeframe expected before the first private, paid vaccines are available.

With this uncertainty, expats are turning increasingly to vaccine tourism which can be done immediately. Tour services have been spotted on the internet for trips to Dubai, Russia, Serbia, and Turkey. The governor of the US territory island of Guam has proposed looking into promoting vaccine tourism. Companies even offered trips that include vaccines to India, where Covid-19 is raging out of control with hundreds of thousands of new infections daily.

Travellers should be wary though as ads use vague terminology stating vaccination centres will be available “very soon” in Moscow’s airport, or that vaccinations in Serbia are while supplies last. The desperation to get vaccinated also attracts scammers with some advertising on WhatsApp in order to swindle users. Packages including flights, meals, hotel, even sightseeing, and of course the Covid-19 vaccine range from a 4-day India trip for US $2,000 to a 22-day European holiday for US $15,000.

Governments are cracking down on vaccine tourism already, with the UK only allowing jabs for British travellers and Serbia saying that only citizens of neighbouring countries would get a vaccine. Norwegian travellers said they paid US $30,000 for a luxury package in order to get the vaccine. In Thailand, allowing expats to travel for vaccine tourism has not been outlawed yet, but authorities are warning about the pitfalls. A vaccine received abroad would still need to be approved by the Thai government for reentry and returning travellers would need to first visit the Thai Embassy of the country that they had travelled to in order to get proper documentation and a certificate of entry before being allowed back into Thailand.

SOURCE: Pattaya Mail

 

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21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Macman

    Wednesday, May 5, 2021 at 3:18 pm

    Thai answer for everything in Thailand. Your foreigner – you pay tax, you pay extra you pay more, you pay when Thai free – you pay you pay you pay you pay

  2. Avatar

    Mister Stretch

    Wednesday, May 5, 2021 at 3:32 pm

    Isn’t this the same government that just months ago was trying to figure out any way that it could to bring in more retirees and “high value” foreign visitors?

    They killed that. It’s completely dead.

    ” In Thailand, allowing expats to travel for vaccine tourism has not been outlawed yet…A vaccine received abroad would still need to be approved by the Thai government for reentry and returning travellers would need to first visit the Thai Embassy of the country that they had travelled to in order to get proper documentation and a certificate of entry before being allowed back into Thailand.”

    That means any vaccine received, before traveling to Thailand, must be approved by the Thai government…it’s not only for expats who live here but any foreigner who wants to enter the country.

    How is this going to change their “sandbox” proposals? If I was a foreign tourist looking for a place to travel or retire…this one message gives me all the information I need to know about how I will be treated if I ever enter the country.

    I hope the government chokes on this decision.

  3. Avatar

    Macman

    Wednesday, May 5, 2021 at 3:40 pm

    If you cannot be vaccinated and cannot buy it privately at the hospitals because the government doesn’t allow it then any foreigner that catches and dies of the virus due to this policy once the government reopens the “sandbox” would mean that Thai government is guilty of restricting necessary medicine and subsequently manslaughter surely?.

  4. Avatar

    Gt

    Wednesday, May 5, 2021 at 3:45 pm

    I posted earlier it’s time all expats to leave this country.

    I for one don’t want to live in such a racist country.

  5. Avatar

    Graham Smith

    Wednesday, May 5, 2021 at 4:01 pm

    Guy’s !
    Is it really worth it to stay in this country anylonger? Please dont reply with a shitty comment about your gf, wife or a funny busines in the country, Do what many other already done. LEAVE THEM ALONE IN THE LOS, because it gonna be the LOC. DONT FEED THEM ANYMORE WHEN THE DONT TREAT YOU AS THEY SHOULD!!!

  6. Avatar

    Dynamo Dave

    Wednesday, May 5, 2021 at 4:55 pm

    @Mister Stretch – All fair comment, MS, and there was I, just 9 yrs ago and 2 yrs before the coup, thinking I had come to the Land of Smiles.
    Just like your ‘They killed that’ comment, they’ve killed the smiles, too, and pretty well everything else that the average Thai man in the street used to enjoy. Even a senior monk can’t express his Covid despair without being investigated. And do they care?

  7. Avatar

    James R

    Wednesday, May 5, 2021 at 5:14 pm

    Why don’t the farangs fly back to their own country and get the vaccine for free, surely their life is worth more than a few thousands pound for travelling expenses etc.

  8. Avatar

    Ben

    Wednesday, May 5, 2021 at 8:03 pm

    @Mister Stretch – Expats that move to Thailand generally do so because they want a better lifestyle than they can get in their home country for less money. They are not the high value foreigners the Deputy PM was targeting a few months ago.

    High value foreigners that spend 100,000+ baht per month come here a few months at a time to experience the Thai playground. The rich don’t move here permanently. They don’t deposit their millions in Thai bank accounts. They don’t buy property in Thailand. They leave their assets in their home countries where the laws protect them in a language they understand. If they need money they hit one of the tens of thousands of ATMs.

    High value foreigners, if they considered moving to a foreign country, would assess the quality of health care and their access to it. This vaccine example is a big negative due to no access.

    An American expat I know is currently evaluating whether to fly back to the US to get vaccinated. Part of his calculus is having to go through quarantine to get back into the country. He can work remotely for a few months so it’s possible quarantine will be greatly reduced or eliminated by the time he absolutely needs to come back. It’s a pain.

    A rich retiree from the west is probably going through the same cost/benefit analysis. It’s a pain.

    Since they announced the desire to lure more rich retirees to Thailand I haven’t seen one positive thing that would want to make me move here permanently. Just more paperwork and the Elite Visa is now 20% more expensive. Thailand saw a rise in demand so what did they do? They raised the price. So yeah that proposal is dead for now.

  9. Avatar

    Simon Small

    Wednesday, May 5, 2021 at 8:40 pm

    “Why don’t the farangs fly back to their own country and get the vaccine for free, surely their life is worth more than a few thousands pound for travelling expenses etc”

    Oh come on, @James R!

    Because they want it free, but they want it in Thailand! They want their jabs, but they want them here! We may disagree, but just look at this crap:

    “you pay you pay you pay you pay”

    Then stay away and don’t “pay”, @Macman! Who’s forcing you to come and “pay”?

    ” you cannot be vaccinated and cannot buy it privately at the hospitals because the government doesn’t allow it then any foreigner … blah, blah,blah …. that Thai government is guilty of restricting necessary medicine and subsequently manslaughter surely?”

    Why “any foreigner”, @Macman? What about all the Thais, or don’t they matter?

    “I posted earlier it’s time all expats to leave this country.

    I for one don’t want to live in such a racist country.”

    Then leave, @Gt – or if you’ve already left, don’t come back. Nobody’s making you!

    “Is it really worth it to stay in this country anylonger?”

    Then don’t, @Graham Smith! Why waste your time whingeing about it? Don’t you have anything better to do or anywhere else better to go?

    It’s not perfect but it’s better than anywhere else FOR ME and after working and living on every continent in the world I chose to live here and I’ve chosen to stay.

    Some of you don’t like it?

    NO PROBLEM – you know where the airport is, go somewhere else. Just stop whingeing about it, FFS!!!

  10. Avatar

    tim hitchin

    Wednesday, May 5, 2021 at 9:12 pm

    Thank god, they cant hold i against me that i dont want an experimental rna drug shot in my arm. If they wont give it to me they cant hold it against me that i dont have it.

  11. Avatar

    EdwardV

    Wednesday, May 5, 2021 at 9:32 pm

    The whole difficulty of getting into the US and back into Thailand aside. Foreign nationals can get vaccinated in the US and depending on the state very easily. Can’t speak for Guam, but here in California there is no residency or nationally requirement. This is a state decision, it’s not up to the Federal government. Since California is a gateway for illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America. The state has decided, correctly if you ask me, that it better to vaccinate anyone and everyone regardless of where are you are from. You don’t even have to be in the country legally and still get a jab free of charge. Just checking one pharmacy company, right now I can walk in and get a J&J jab at three different locations within 3 miles of my location.

  12. Avatar

    Susan

    Wednesday, May 5, 2021 at 9:39 pm

    @Gt – well leave. Goodbye

  13. Avatar

    Susan

    Wednesday, May 5, 2021 at 9:43 pm

    What is the issue here. The government already said that expats will be included.
    It’s only a few days ago registration opened for over 60 Thais that people are winding themselves up and just starting drama as expats are not included yet.
    If you live here like I do you will know hospitals have already requested through MOPH. I spoke to bumrungrad and they have a list of patients and expect by July.
    Why does no one research and just troll ?

  14. Avatar

    MichaelBKK

    Wednesday, May 5, 2021 at 10:28 pm

    Little Johnny from issan is angry again !!!

  15. Avatar

    Mel Burn

    Thursday, May 6, 2021 at 1:59 am

    First, it’s “Desperate”.
    Second – why do you want a vaccine if you are in Thailand? Stayed almost all last year and was not worried whatsoever – very few cases.

  16. Avatar

    roskruge

    Thursday, May 6, 2021 at 2:46 am

    I personally have no immediate desire to get vaccinated, not because of any worries about the different COVID-19 vaccines, or vaccines in general. I was in a self-imposed ‘Lock-Down’ before the term came into common use and before COVID-19. The vaccine passport is not a new thing, a few days ago I saw a copy of the proposed Thai vaccine passport, it was almost identical to the WHO ‘yellow card’ I got in the 1960’s to begin my 50 years of travel. I still had it till a few years ago, (with many add-on page) till it was stolen by a burglar (Australian) for no good reason. Even if you have had the vaccination and it was marked on the yellow card, without the health department stamp it was not recognised. What is not mentioned above, as I understand it, is any expat here on the current retirement visa, once he/she leaves the country (Thailand) for whatever reason the visa is no longer valid. Re-Entry (if possible) would be on the new retirement visa requiring health insurance. (my first post on this site).(hope I havent tread on to may toes).

  17. Avatar

    Buttaxe

    Thursday, May 6, 2021 at 9:27 am

    Isaan John, AKA Simon Small should reinvent himself again as Uncle Tom. Any foreigner living here, accepting this has no dignity. Last straw for me, there are better places. More welcoming of my contribution.

  18. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Thursday, May 6, 2021 at 11:37 am

    @roskruge – No roskruge. You wrote well and made some worthwhile points.

  19. Avatar

    Harry1

    Thursday, May 6, 2021 at 12:30 pm

    having lived him for many enjoyable years, l,ve turned a blind eye to injustice,l did feel uncomfortable and spoke out,but was hoping things will change,it hasnt and now l,ve become a victim.us expats have supported the local community and even some have helped by donation.l was banking on getting a vaccine here now l am exposed to this virus with no help from this current government.as someone else mention they want to attract retiree here ? what a big joke.my only advise is understand your status is meaningless

  20. Avatar

    Phil J

    Thursday, May 6, 2021 at 1:24 pm

    EXPAT LIVES MATTER!!!
    EXPAT LIVES MATTER!!!
    EXPAT LIVES MATTER!!!

  21. Avatar

    James R

    Thursday, May 6, 2021 at 6:47 pm

    @Simon Small – aka Issan John

    Quite simply I agree with your comment about the constant farang moaners.

    I suppose most of them are broke and can not do much about anything.

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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.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha seeks looser restrictions in ‘red’ zones

Tanutam Thawan

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Photo via Facebook/ PR Thai government

Covid-19 infections are still high, but PM Prayut Chan-o-cha says he wants restrictions to loosen up and businesses to reopen as soon as possible in provinces classified as “red” zones under tight control to combat Covid-19.

The prime minister says he has ordered governors of red zone provinces to look into easing disease control measures. Looking into each province’s Covid-19 situation and the restrictions’ impact on the local economy, governors are told to find a good balance that works well for both the economy and public health.

Spokesperson for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, Taweesilp Visanuyothin, says restrictions at restaurants in red zone provinces can be lifted if the situation improves.

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha seeks looser restrictions in 'red' zones | News by ThaigerPM Prayut Chan-o-cha seeks looser restrictions in 'red' zones | News by ThaigerSOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Thailand

American leaves hospital after being denied Covid treatment in same room as Thai wife

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Photo via The Pattaya News

An American man, who tested positive for Covid-19, is back in the hospital after fleeing when he was denied a shared room with this Thai wife-who was also undergoing Covid treatment. The 51 year old man left the northeastern Amnat Charoen province Chanuman hospital on May 9th after doctors declined to move his bed to that of his wife’s room. The man angrily went home without permission.

He was spotted walking on the road by local residents before being found by police at his home. The medical team convinced him to return to the hospital. But the incident has invoked stress among locals as they fear he could have spread the virus when he left the hospital. Thai social media was flooded with angry posts about the incident, with some calling for his arrest or deportation. In response, the Chanuman district chief has announced they will tighten security at the hospital to prevent any future incidents that are similar in nature.

The man’s name was not given, due to his Covid-19 status, and it has not been announced whether he will face any consequences after his actions.

Meanwhile, Thailand is reporting 1,630 new Covid-19 cases and 22 coronavirus-related deaths over the past 24 hours. There are now 29,376 active Covid-19 cases. Since the start of the pandemic last year, the CCSA has reported 85,005 Covid-19 cases and 421 Covid-related deaths.

Out of the 22 deaths, most of the patients had chronic illnesses. Many contracted the virus from family members or close friends.

Most of the new cases were detected in Bangkok, particularly in districts with crowded communities and markets. While cases in Bangkok continue to be high, CCSA spokesperson Natapanu Nopakun says the number of new cases in most other provinces in Thailand is decreasing.

Health officials are rolling out proactive case finding campaigns in several high-risk communities, testing 9,000 to 10,000 per day, Nopakun says, adding that officials are working to provide the appropriate treatment as quickly as possible.

Those who test positive for Covid-19 and are asymptomatic must stay at an official field hospital for 14 days and then self-isolate at home for another 14 days.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Covid UPDATE: 1,919 new cases and 31 deaths, provincial totals

Tanutam Thawan

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Deputy spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Natapanu Nopakun / Photo courtesy of the Royal Thai Government

1,919 new Covid-19 cases and 31 coronavirus-related deaths were reported today in the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration’s daily briefing. Thailand now has 29,435 active cases. Since the start of the pandemic last year, the CCSA has reported a total of 86,924 infections and 452 Covid-related deaths.

At today’s CCSA briefing, Ministry of Foreign Affairs deputy spokesperson Natapanu Nopakun said that while the Covid-19 situation in Thailand may seem like it is stable, with cases decreasing or at zero in many provinces, the number of new infections reported each day is not declining.

“Infections are still concentrated in the hotspot which is Bangkok and the vicinity where several new cases were detected in active case finding.”

Out of the 1,919 new infections reported today, 885 were in Bangkok. Since April 1, more than 20,000 Covid-19 infections have been reported in the capital, first with clusters in the swanky Thong Lor nightlife district and now in the Khlong Toey slum.

Natapanu says that, fortunately, no new clusters were reported in Bangkok over the past day. He says a minor cluster was reported at a wet market in Nonthaburi, a suburb just outside Bangkok.

Out of the recent deaths, many had pre-existing conditions of high blood pressure and diabetes. Many contracted the virus from infected family members.

To prevent the emergence of the Covid-19 variant that was first detected in India, Natapanu says foreign nationals travelling from countries with the widespread transmission of the mutated strain are temporarily barred from entering Thailand. Thai embassies in Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh, where the Indian variant is spreading, have suspended the issuing of the required Certificate of Entry, or COE.

Covid UPDATE: 1,919 new cases and 31 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger

Covid UPDATE: 1,919 new cases and 31 deaths, provincial totals | News by Thaiger

 

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