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.
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?