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.”