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Phuket Opinion: Pushed to the end of the line

Phuket Opinion: Pushed to the end of the line

PHUKET: If one thing is clear in Phuket today is how the island’s expat community is feeling extremely marginalized in the ongoing saga of when, where and how a foreigner in Phuket can be vaccinated for COVID-19, and likely rightly so.

By The Phuket News

Sunday 30 May 2021, 09:00AM

Photo: PR Phuket

Photo: PR Phuket

The lack of information being delivered to expats is appalling. Natapanu Nopakun, Deputy Director-General of the Department of Information and Deputy Spokesman of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, announced more than a week ago that foreigners will be able to register at the hospitals where they have their own health records kept, or at other designated facilities. Even that announcement came as tensions rose of anti-foreigner sentiment in Bangkok.

Since then there has not been one word of confidence from local officials that this will happen from officials in Phuket. It can’t be that hard, there are only nine hospitals on the island, and this is just for registering, not actually administering any injections. When foreigners in Phuket might actually receive a vaccination injection remains unsaid.

While the silence continues, the feeling in the expat community in Phuket is that expats are being pushed to the end of the line, and not even given a choice over being vaccinated – despite the Thai Food & Drug Administration having already approved five vaccines for emergency use in dealing with the COVID-19 situation, the same reason given for extending the state of emergency again and again. None of those vaccines are available for foreigners to choose from, even paying for their own vaccinations if they chose to.

HeadStart International School Phuket

The mind-boggling move to not allow even a choice of vaccine for people to pay for themselves appears to not even be understood as impeding the highly touted goal of vaccinating as many people in the country as quickly as possible.

Worse, it even appears that officials are not even aware that many of the foreigners living in Phuket are retirees, a key risk group for interacting with foreigners once the July 1 reopening happens and a key risk group for infection, and once infected very likely to start using hospital and medical resources.

Now we are just over four weeks away from July 1 and expats being allowed to only register for a state vaccine is still a week away. What are they waiting for?

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Kurt | 31 May 2021 - 10:26:08

@conkahein, let's not have the illusion that any vaccine, including Sinovac goes for free in arms of foreigners. Remember the fast tests? Free for Thai, foreigners had to pay 500 thb. While the Covid numbers now increase, these tests have stopped now.

conkahein | 30 May 2021 - 17:30:55

I've been running around for a year packing food packages, handing them out etc. Just to see and hear Thais talking to police and community workers if that's allowed. Don't they need a work permit? With our packages in their hands!!! I'll stay in full Covid mode too until they bring in Biontech or Moderna. I pay for it. I wouldn't take this chinese [xxxx] for free. "Not va...

PJ | 30 May 2021 - 13:28:51

Extremely good article and could add that the proposed 16 week wait for AZ vax will only increase risk if/when we get it. (Uk standard gap is 11-12 weeks > being reduced to 8 weeks due Indian variant. Meantime ALL my “Foreigner” pals in HK, Malaysia, Singapore etc ALL had at least one jab already.  For first time in 13 years living here I’m thinking seriously about moving.

Capricornball | 30 May 2021 - 12:53:55

I agree with agogo, a lack of professional qualifications due to crap education at all levels, xenophobia (more like racism) and an overall lack of understanding the issues at hand are why we are where we are. There is a huge lack of professional ethics in "Officialdom", and a lack of fairness fueled by narrowmindedness and generally childish mentalities.c

Foot | 30 May 2021 - 12:23:13

Time to recognize that foreigners in Thailand for the long term (ex-pats) are not wanted. They bring all sorts of ideas about freedoms, education, and professionalism. These things are not good for most countries. Why else are immigration rules and COVID response so confusing and contradictory? Unfortunately, many are not in a position to leave.

maverick | 30 May 2021 - 12:06:01

A racist opinion piece - governments the world over have struggled with this why should Thailand be any different - we have a date June 7 let’s see what happens after we register then judge.

agogohome | 30 May 2021 - 10:41:54

They're not 'waiting' for anything. The piss poor organisation is a direct reflection of the atrocious  education standards in Thailand. 

Christy Sweet | 30 May 2021 - 10:08:36

I plan to keep masking, etc., as if we are in full epidemic mode until I can get Pfizer or similar.  I foresee no 'herd immunity'  as it's only possible when 85% of the population has had TWO inoculations, and there are no variants about. IMO, this virus is here to stay. It could have been eradicated a year ago but, capitalist pressure won that argument. 

jim98040 | 30 May 2021 - 09:51:23

I am retired living in Patong the past eleven years. Being disrespected and pushed to the back of the line doesn’t sit well with me. The national and local governments handling of vaccines have brought buffoonery to a whole new level.  

Dave_C | 30 May 2021 - 09:34:40

In the past year many retired Expats have been voluntarily handing out food packages to desperate Phuket citizens being continually screwed by over the top, badly thought out decisions by the "authorities" who appear to be totally out of touch.

Now is the time for these people to act responsibly and, as a priority,, arrange to have vaccinations 
 made available to Expats.


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