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US embassy in Thailand rejects citizens’ appeal to fly in vaccines for them

Some other countries have started vaccinating their citizens or donating jabs earmarked for them.

Staff Writers
2 minute read
People wait to be given doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at Paragon shopping mall in Bangkok, Thailand, June 7. Photo: AP
People wait to be given doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at Paragon shopping mall in Bangkok, Thailand, June 7. Photo: AP

The US embassy in Thailand on Wednesday turned down a direct appeal to fly in Covid-19 vaccines for its citizens there but said the US government was taking actions to boost vaccine access worldwide.

In an online message to its citizens in Thailand, the embassy said the state department could not provide vaccines to the millions of Americans abroad, but would advocate for equitable access locally.

The message comes after four US citizens’ groups last month wrote to Secretary of State Antony Blinken asking for Thailand to be made a pilot project for vaccinating Americans abroad.

The US taxes its citizens on income earned wherever they are in the world, so these groups of citizens maintain that as US taxpayers, they should have the same rights as citizens at home who are being swamped with inducements to accept free Covid shots at taxpayers’ expense.

US embassies have posted on their websites notices saying the US government does not provide vaccines for its citizens overseas alongside information about whatever access Americans may have to local vaccinations.

Paul Risley, a US citizen and chair of Democrats Abroad, told Reuters that the need to vaccinate elderly Americans who may be unable to travel home for the shots was “paramount”.

Vaccinating American citizens would also help alleviate the burden for Thailand, Risley said.

The embassy said the US government will release seven million vaccine doses to countries in Asia, including Thailand.

It did not say it was making plans to vaccinate or prioritise its own citizens.

Thailand’s mass vaccination drive started this month amid its worst coronavirus outbreak so far. A record 51 deaths were announced on Wednesday. So far, in Thailand only about 2.3 million out of over 50 million adults have been fully vaccinated.

Some sources say foreigners will be entitled to be vaccinated in the drive but others say the jabs are only for foreigners with working visas.

China has donated one million vaccine doses to Thailand, with 400,000 earmarked for its own nationals.

France’s embassy on Wednesday started vaccinating its citizens in Thailand.

On Wednesday, the Scandinavian Society Siam sent an appeal to all Nordic governments to follow the example of the French embassy and take matters regarding vaccination of their own citizens into their own hands. 

Their message reads in part:

“The Nordic community in Thailand is in severe danger from the Covid-19 pandemic, and the Scandinavian Society Siam is appealing to you for immediate help to our fellow citizens who need vaccines to prevent Covid-19 from causing more fatalities and more havoc among Nordic citizens in Thailand.

“The official vaccination program in Thailand does not include foreigners, neither elderly nor those with underlying diseases unless they have a work permit, and the many retired Nordic persons are therefore left in frustrating danger.”