No vaccine priority for Thais over foreign residents, task force reaffirms

A health worker injects a man Wednesday at the Tesco Lotus Rama IV shopping center. Photo: Thai Red Cross Society
A health worker injects a man Wednesday at the Tesco Lotus Rama IV shopping center. Photo: Thai Red Cross Society

All residents, native and foreign-born alike, will be eligible at the same time to receive free vaccinations, the nation’s pandemic response team said today, contradicting recent statements attributed to the Health Ministry.

The only priority will be given to groups most at risk or in need and not citizenship status, COVID-19 task force spokesperson Pensom Lertsithichai said today on the heels of reports the ministry said foreigners would have to wait at the back of the line.

Pensom said the campaign is still in its first phase of vaccinating frontline workers, medical personnel, the elderly, people with underlying conditions and communities with high risk of exposure. She said some foreigners who fit those conditions have already been vaccinated, such as migrant workers and health volunteers. 

As for yesterday’s reports that Thai nationals would have first crack at vaccination, she chose to blame “media misunderstanding.”

Most residents, regardless of nationality, will start getting their free jabs in June, although the Mor Phrom smartphone app that went live Saturday (Android / iOS) does not yet support registration of foreign nationals. Currently only eligible for Thais 60 and up, the app has been used to register 1.2 million people for June appointments, though it has been criticized as buggy. Pensom said they are working to improve it. 

For now, foreigners are encouraged to contact hospitals directly to try to secure an appointment.

Disease control director Opas Kankawinpong said foreign residents can ask their employers and workplaces to help them register; also, find out if their embassy is one of few arranging vaccinations. 

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