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Fed-up waiting, some Thais have travelled overseas to be vaccinated

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Facebook/Jakkrit Tom Yompayorm

While the Thai government continues to big up its vaccination rollout and PM Prayut Chan-o-cha insists there will be enough vaccines for everyone, many Thais have lost faith. And the few who can afford it are flying overseas – at significant cost – to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Coconuts reports that the reasons for doing so are varied… some have underlying health conditions, others want an alternative to the Chinese Sinovac or locally produced AstraZeneca.

Online personality Jakkrit Yompayorm, aka Kru Tom Kam Thai (Teacher Tom Teaching Thai), has shared photos on social media, thanking the US government after receiving both doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

“All done! Welcome back to your normal life. Thank you, American government.”

Jakkrit was able to be vaccinated at a Walmart store in the US after giving just his name and answering a few health questions. This is in stark contrast to the bureaucratic process surrounding Thailand’s vaccine rollout, whereby people must first be considered eligible, then try to register on a platform that doesn’t always work, then wait for an appointment and hope it isn’t cancelled, then show up with their official identification and wait in line, often for hours.

For Thai nationals who’ve given up on their government and who can afford to travel for vaccination, a number of travel agencies are offering vaccine packages, whereby sightseeing tours are combined with inoculation. They’re not cheap, ranging from 67,000 – 245,000 baht, and in some cases, the cost of 14 day quarantine on return to Thailand is higher than the cost of the trip abroad.

In Jakkrit’s case, he paid just over 20,000 baht for his round trip to the US, but over 30,000 baht for his quarantine stay on his return – despite the fact that he’d received 2 doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

Suwincha “Chacha” Singsuwan, also travelled to the US for vaccination after realising she wouldn’t be vaccinated in Thailand anytime soon. She is young, without any underlying health conditions, but runs several bars and restaurants in Bangkok and felt responsible for protecting over 60 employees who work for her.

With bars in Thailand currently closed indefinitely, she decided to visit her sister in the US and get vaccinated at the same time. She says despite the fact that she is not a US citizen and had no health insurance, she was able to get the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine with no difficulty.

Sucha Nuntaworanuch, who has family in the US, watched from Thailand as her parents and siblings were all vaccinated and realised her only hope of vaccination was to join them.

She too got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, administered at a Costco store. She says she was in and out in half an hour, which only served to increase her frustration with the Thai government.

“The United States got plenty of vaccines, but why didn’t Thailand import them? I felt a lot of empathy for the Thai people who were unable to register for vaccines.”

SOURCE: Coconuts

 

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21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Avatar

    gosport

    Tuesday, June 8, 2021 at 9:07 am

    Big thanks for these travellers, they saved some doese for the poor. They are heroes.

  2. Avatar

    Allan R

    Tuesday, June 8, 2021 at 9:09 am

    I know several foreigner who’ve done the same. I their case it was the slowness and unnecessary complications it was they didn’t believe we farang were going to get shots at all. And when you look at the reality that there is still not way to even register, that sounds like the case. I’m in my mid 70s and there is just no way for me to get a jab even if I’m in a high risk category. We just don’t count.

  3. Avatar

    sydneyB

    Tuesday, June 8, 2021 at 9:12 am

    I am unsure which is worse, the bureaucratic process of Thailand with Prayut dragging his heels and changing the goal posts at the drop of a hat or the ease of flying to the US of A and walking in Walmart and receiving a jab (but then you can walk in Walmart and buy a rifle, no questions asked). As for choosing your vaccine, I believe it should be in the hands of qualified health professionals as to which vaccine is most appropriate.

  4. Avatar

    reality check

    Tuesday, June 8, 2021 at 9:41 am

    I am an American living in Thailand. A big reason the US has vaccines to use is because they hoard them and that is a big reason they are not available to countries like Thailand. You see now they have 80 million to give to other countries. Those 80 million should have been available to other countries months ago but the US and the EU have more money than many other countries so they were first in line to get the vaccines. Don’t blame Thailand for not being able to procure them, blame the US and the EU!

  5. Avatar

    gosport

    Tuesday, June 8, 2021 at 10:01 am

    @reality check
    it is not a blame game. Thailand made a mistake procuring vaccines that will never come. Lucky at least they begin to roll out.

  6. Avatar

    Stardust

    Tuesday, June 8, 2021 at 10:16 am

    @reality check – pure nonsense what you are talking! And I doubt you are an American. Thailand has no vaccine because they didnt order in time and gambled on one local horse, also they did not take part at the covax program. Why do you think Laos has more vaccinated people and a various of vaccines like Pfizer, moderna , Astra, etc.!

  7. Avatar

    EdwardV

    Tuesday, June 8, 2021 at 11:18 am

    @reality check – that’s not true. The US has used over 80% of all its vaccines. There are no warehouses filled with vaccines waiting to be used (outside of the AZ which still isn’t approved). The US isn’t hoarding vaccines, what they have a a boat load of vaccines on order. Those orders are to be filled over the next two years. The 80M doses being donated are being made now. The 20% not distributed are scattered all over the country in small batches at pharmacies, doctors offices and individual hospitals. It’s not like they can be rounded back up and sent overseas. Had you actually been in the US you would know there were still lines to get vaccinated just a month ago. It’s only in the last 3-4 weeks they have disappeared and allowed the US to have the freedom to start mass donations.

  8. Avatar

    Simon Small

    Tuesday, June 8, 2021 at 11:21 am

    “the US and the EU have more money than many other countries so they were first in line to get the vaccines”

    Very true, @reality check, that’s one of the big reasons but it still doesn’t excuse the Thai government’s incompetence with the roll out programme and tardiness in ordering alternative vaccines rather than relying entirely on locally produced AZ, which was bound to experience delays in production, and Sinovac which was bound to be unpopular.

    They had plenty of other options, either ordering other vaccines earlier once they were WHO approved, or allowing private hospitals to order approved vaccines.

    Thailand has no excuse, but that still doesn’t excuse the appalling hoarding of vaccines by richer countries such as the EU and US that have up to five times more vaccines than they need. The UK has six times more vaccines than needed to vaccinate the population, but they still refuse to give away a single dose.

  9. Avatar

    Ben

    Tuesday, June 8, 2021 at 11:52 am

    @reality check – Wake up bro. The one local horse is Siam Bioscience. Look up who owns them. The government succumbed to politics. By the time they realized Siam Bioscience couldn’t deliver timely they were behind the 8-ball. Now they’re scrambling to cover up their errors by buying everything they can. The premium jabs (Pfizer, Moderna and J&J) purchased aren’t going to be delivered until the 4th quarter because they were at the back of the line.

    The USA opened their wallets early and backed the vaccine makers before they were sure it was going to work. Thailand didn’t want to open their wallets until they saw evidence it worked. And then they wanted to buy local compounding their error. Blaming the USA for Thailand’s poor vaccine management is convenient but incorrect.

    The USA starting vaccinating in January and are now getting back to normal. Thailand is 5 months behind so will likely be back to normal in the 4th quarter assuming there are no issues with the AZ and Chinese vaccines they’ve acquired.

  10. Avatar

    Simon Small

    Tuesday, June 8, 2021 at 11:59 am

    “@reality check – pure nonsense what you are talking!”

    Uninformed tripe as usual, @Stardust.

    While there is no excuse for Thailand’s shambolic rollout and late procurement, other countries such as the US and UK, as well as the EU, have far more vaccines than they need making it impossible for poorer countries to buy vaccines that aren’t available.

    The Covax programme would have put Thailand in an even worse position than it is now.

    While Laos gets the vaccines free from Covax, Thailand would have paid the full price and been unable to negotiate any deals, such as producing AZ under licence or buying Moderna or anything else, so in a few months it would be even worse off than it is now.

    “Why do you think Laos has more vaccinated people …”

    Untrue – it doesn’t.

    While Laos has a higher percentage fully vaccinated (4.2%) the number of “vaccinated people” is considerably lower, with 303k fully vaccinated and 376k with one dose (982k doses in total).

    “… and a various of vaccines like Pfizer, moderna , Astra, etc.!”

    Also untrue.

    Laos has not had any Moderna vaccine, Pfizer has not been administered yet as a few doses have only just arrived, and the vast majority of the vaccines used (which they have no choice about, under Covax) are Sinopharm and Sinovac.

    While Thailand has no excuse, what you’re saying is just “pure nonsense” – and easily verifiable as such.

  11. Avatar

    TS

    Tuesday, June 8, 2021 at 12:14 pm

    @stardust- very true. the slick dick tater passed on Thailand participating in the covax program and utterly failed the Thais by not ordering various world wide approved vaccines last year. So miserably arrogant and incompetent or deliberately destroying the place? All very hush-hush

  12. Avatar

    James R

    Tuesday, June 8, 2021 at 1:04 pm

    What I can’t understand is why do farang sit in Thailand and moan about not having a vaccine, just fly to your own country to get one, so simple.

    @realty check

    You need a reality check it seems,

    Thailand has so few vaccines because they are at the back of the queue as I have been saying for the last six months, they did not order any in time

    The UK for example ordered theirs before they were even manufactured and had not been certified when they placed their order. They took the gamble and won.

  13. Avatar

    Eamonn Maher

    Tuesday, June 8, 2021 at 2:45 pm

    @Stardust – Very good point, Stardust! 100%.

  14. Avatar

    Gobsmacked_1

    Tuesday, June 8, 2021 at 2:47 pm

    @Stardust – Very good point, Stardust. 100%.

  15. Avatar

    Nigel

    Tuesday, June 8, 2021 at 3:44 pm

    The U.K. doesn’t have a physical surplus of vaccines. What it has is a surplus based on orders. As and when they arrive the U.K. will donate through Covax. In addition the UK has supported the world by foregoing the corporation tax on the hundreds of millions of Pounds profit AZ will not pay as a result of it supplying vaccines at cost. This is unlike Pfizer and Moderna who are looking to make profit

  16. Avatar

    Alavan

    Tuesday, June 8, 2021 at 4:22 pm

    @ Simon Small
    “While there is no excuse for Thailand’s shambolic rollout and late procurement, other countries such as the US and UK, as well as the EU, have far more vaccines than they need making it impossible for poorer countries to buy vaccines that aren’t available.”
    Not true, the EU doesn’t have more vaccines than they need, they will have when everything ordered is delivered.
    Pfizer delivers as agreed, the others (especially AZ) don’t, they cannot follow the contract.
    In the meantime, Scandinavian countries and others give allready to covax.
    Belgium f;e;, with a population of 11m, will give 4m AZ and J&J vaccines to covax, while still vaccinating its own population (including non citizens and even illegals).

  17. Avatar

    Nigel

    Tuesday, June 8, 2021 at 7:42 pm

    Exactly @Alavan. More myths from people who will believe anything they Google. The Thais are finding just about every way they can not to vaccinate foreigners even living in the country. Can you imagine if they had the capability to produce 200 million doses and the rest of the world needed them? It truly amazing how blind people can be when they decide to make a place their home in a pitiful attempt to justify their decisions.

  18. Avatar

    Stardust

    Tuesday, June 8, 2021 at 9:10 pm

    @Simon Small – as usual all fake news and rubbish what are you talking. Laos is in tge covax program and sinovac and Sinovac was not approved til a week ago . And by the way I know people who got the moderna in Laos. Laos started with Astra and moderna their roll out. I came in the 90s by a international company to south east asia and I am sure you never worked in Thailand/south east asia your experience is sitting at a stone table and want to explain Thailand to other expats but everybody who worked or lived a while in Thailand/south east asia knows that and will think the same about your comments.

  19. Avatar

    Nigel

    Wednesday, June 9, 2021 at 6:15 am

    Agreed @Stardust. Like you I have worked in a number of SE Asian countries as well as India and China. I’ve met many a @Simon Small in my time. They have just one view of Thailand and that is based on a very limited span of experiences. The internet is seen as their way to demonstrate their superior knowledge without understand anything that are cutting and pasting. The best thing to do is see them as simply comments. Not worth getting in to a conversation with people like that

  20. Avatar

    TS

    Wednesday, June 9, 2021 at 8:54 am

    it’s not just about farangs getting vaccinated here although that’s a cluster f as well. Most know we can just fly home and get it and we don’t need to be reminded of that constantly. Also the few Thais with a visa and enough funds can get a jab with effective vacc easily in the US or other countries. No stupid appointments or citizenship discrimination.
    It’s about this disaster of a regime not doing the right things for the THAI citizens. When it really counted. All planning/mulling over this and that/proposing/considering/maybe purchasing? No action. A few thousand folks getting sinoshite jabs in BKK & phuket just ain’t getting it done.

  21. Avatar

    reality check

    Thursday, June 10, 2021 at 10:17 am

    @Allan R – Check with a private hospital. I have registered for the vaccine. The government won’t pay for it but it you are willing to pay you can get your shots.

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