Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Thailand includes foreigners in vaccine plans but availability is causing anxiety

The country has not begun mass vaccinations but has given shots to mostly frontline workers from its stock of 2.5 million doses of the Chinese Sinovac vaccine.

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Thailand confirmed on Thursday that it plans to include the three million foreigners living in the country in its mass vaccination programme to protect the entire population, Reuters is reporting.

“Anybody living in Thailand, whether they be Thai or foreign, if they want the vaccine they can get it,” the head of the disease control department, Opas Kankawinpong told a briefing.

“No one is safe until everyone is safe,” he added.

Thailand needs to immunise about 50 million people, or 70% of the population, to achieve herd immunity, based on estimates of 67 million Thais plus three million foreign residents, he said.

The government has repeatedly said foreigners would be offered vaccines but expatriates have been voicing concerns in recent weeks, with some venting frustrations and anxieties on social media about a lack of public information, problems registering, or confusion over private vaccine availability.

The health ministry is working on other ways to include non-Thais in the vaccination programme, including via mobile applications or direct contact from hospitals, according to the foreign ministry.

The country has yet to begin its mass immunisation programme but has administered shots to mostly frontline workers from its stock of 2.5 million doses of the Chinese Sinovac vaccine.

After June, the country’s main source of vaccines should be a local manufacturer set to produce AstraZeneca’s jab.

Anxiety over vaccines has risen throughout Thailand as it deals with its biggest outbreak of the pandemic so far, with more than two-thirds of its total 336 fatalities recorded in the past month alone.

New daily infections have been stable at around 2,000 since mid-April. Indeed, there were 1,911 new cases and 18 deaths announced on Thursday.

The Thaiger reported on Thursday that the news for foreigners concerning receiving a vaccination keeps changing. The only constant is that Thailand’s foreign population are at the bottom of the list with no definite policy on how or when any of them may be vaccinated.

In addition, foreign embassies are currently refusing to provide any assistance regarding helping with the vaccination of their citizens.

Only a handful of expats have so far been vaccinated – mostly those working in the education sector.

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