All foreign nationals currently living in Thailand can get a COVID-19 vaccine, director-general of the Disease Control Department Dr. Opas Karnkawinpong said on Thursday.
Dr. Opas made the announcement while responding to some questions related to the speech Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha gave earlier this week. Gen Prayut said that all people in the kingdom would be vaccinated voluntarily according to international standards.
“The PM was referring to all persons living in Thailand, regardless of whether they are Thai or foreigners,” Dr. Opas stated.
“If a person wants a vaccine, they will get it no matter what their nationality,” he went on. Dr. Opas explained that 70 percent of the population must be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity against the novel coronavirus.
“That means about 50 million people in Thailand need to be vaccinated for herd immunity, and the government has plans to procure a total of 100 million doses to achieve this,” he added.
“Anybody who wants to be vaccinated can register via the provided channels, though people with chronic conditions will be given priority,” he stated, referring to the Mor Phrom (Doctors Ready) platform’s online application launched on May 1.
The Public Health Ministry created the app as a channel where people can register to obtain the COVID-19 vaccine.
Priority will be given to people at risk of developing severe symptoms if they contract the virus. The group includes people over the age of 60 and those with chronic diseases such as severe respiratory syndrome, kidney disease, heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, diabetes, cancer patients under treatment, and obesity.
Those who weigh more than 100 kg or have a body mass index over 35 are considered obese.
Authorities reminded citizens that those who do not have a smartphone could use other channels to book their vaccine. Some options include registration at hospitals or local public health offices.
The government has repeatedly claimed that it would offer vaccines to foreigners. “No one is safe until everyone is safe,” Dr. Opas said.
However, concerns among ex-pats raised in recent weeks, and many expressed frustration via social media about the lack of public information, registration issues, or confusion over the private availability of doses.
Thailand has not started its mass inoculation program but has administered vaccines to most front-line workers using Sinovac’s shots.