Govt urged to 'give people the facts' on vaccine shortages

Govt urged to 'give people the facts' on vaccine shortages

amarak Hospital director Youwanush Kongdan describes the shortage of vaccines during a Facebook Live session on Sunday. (Photo from Youwanush Kongdan Facebook account)
amarak Hospital director Youwanush Kongdan describes the shortage of vaccines during a Facebook Live session on Sunday. (Photo from Youwanush Kongdan Facebook account)

A frustrated hospital director is standing her ground after the country’s public health minister complains of being held responsible for vaccine shortages and missteps.

Youwanush Kongdan, the director of Namarak, a 10-bed private hospital in Huai Kwang, took the problem to her Facebook page on Sunday with some suggestions for the Public Health Ministry.

"I am making an appeal to the government that it should give people the facts and communicate with them in a straightforward manner," she said.

"If you have sufficient vaccines, please say so. If you don't have enough vaccines, you also should say so and tell people when the vaccines will come."

"People will accept that," she added.

The government’s contradictory statements and mixed messaging have left both hospitals and the general public confused and upset. One week before the nationwide vaccination drive began on June 7, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha declared the country would not encounter vaccine shortages. However, on eve of the launch Deputy Public Health Minister Sathit Pitutecha admitted that vaccine delays were possible.

Namarak has been an authorised vaccination centre since June 7, but was told on Saturday that no jab deliveries were available for the week of June 14-20.

The hospital and its director posted a message on their Facebook accounts on Saturday to inform people who had made appointments for jabs that the vaccines had not arrived.

The message also said any questions should be referred to the Mor Prom app call centre or the public health minister.

On Sunday morning, Dr Youwanush learned that Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul relayed through a ministry official that he was not happy with the reference to "the public health minister" included in the Facebook posts. She described subsequent talks with Thares Krassanairawiwong, the director of the Health Service Support Department, as "amicable" -- but he demanded that that reference to Mr Anutin be dropped from the announcement.

Dr Youwanush later replaced "the public health minister" with "related state agencies."

However, during a Facebook Live session Dr Youwanush defended her mention of the public health minister, saying he had mapped out the policy himself and someone must be held accountable for delivery problems.  

"The (public health) minister is the commander-in-chief who sets the policy," she said. "Or is it the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration now?"

Dr Youwanush emphasised more clarity was needed on the criteria behind vaccine distribution.  

"This war (against the coronavirus outbreak) needs a clear policy and quick communications," she said.

Vocabulary

  • appeal: an urgent request for people to do something or behave in a particular way - การร้องขอ
  • contradictory: containing or showing a lack of agreement between facts, opinions, actions, etc - ซึ่งขัดแย้งกัน, ซึ่งไม่ไปในทางเดียวกัน
  • emphasise: to stress something such as an idea, fact or detail; to explain or show why something is important - เน้น
  • frustrated: feeling annoyed and impatient because you are prevented from achieving something - ผิดหวัง,ท้อแท้ใจมาก, หงุดหงิดใจ
  • mapped out: planned in detail - วางแผน
  • missteps: doing things that are wrong or do not get the job done -
  • relay: to pass something on (information, money, etc.) from one person or place to another - ส่งผ่าน
  • straightforward: clear and honest - ตรงไปตรงมา
  • subsequent: happening or coming after something else - ซึ่งตามมา
  • sufficiently: having enough of something - เพียงพอ
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