Don’t close free vaccine clinic in downtown Bangkok, petition urges

Business groups and an association advocating for Americans have asked the Disease Control Department to reconsider the closure of a conveniently located vaccination center next month.

The Americans in Thailand Association petitioned the department to continue operating the free vaccination clinic on Sathorn Road at the Bang Rak Medical Center where COVID-19 shots and boosters have been readily available for the past 15 months.

“The association disagrees with its closure as Thais and foreigners will have more difficult access to vaccines,” the letter urged disease control chief Opas Karnkawinpong in its letter, a copy of which was shared today with Coconuts. “Moreover, the Department of Disease Control will lose opportunities and achievements accumulated as well as losing one of the best measures to deal with the emergency epidemic situation that still can happen at any time.”

It described the clinic as “the only major government agency where foreigners have easy access to such services” which provides “a better vaccination management system than most private hospitals.”

The association said similar letters were sent by the Thai-Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce.

A representative of the British Chamber of Commerce who acknowledged working on a letter advocating for the clinic declined to comment. 

The office Director-General Opas could not be reached Monday. But Bang Rak Medical Center staff acknowledged receiving orders to wind down the Bangrak Health Center by Sept. 30. 

“Last year we were seeing 500 patients a day,” said a representative for the center who declined to give her name. “Now we receive about 100. Sometimes it’s only 50.”

Located near BTS Saint Louis in the Bang Rak Medical Center, the clinic opened May 2021. Free appointments could be made within minutes, but the online system was no longer available as of Monday.

Thailand has lifted most public health measures including mandatory masking and travel restrictions in recent months. The official average of new daily cases has remained roughly 2,000 since late June.

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