Official assures foreigners they will get vaccines

Official assures foreigners they will get vaccines

A man gets a Covid-19 vaccine shot at Wat Klong Toey Nai in Klong Toey district on Wednesday. (Photo by Varuth Hirunyatheb)
A man gets a Covid-19 vaccine shot at Wat Klong Toey Nai in Klong Toey district on Wednesday. (Photo by Varuth Hirunyatheb)

A high-ranking official has confirmed that authorities plan to include 3 million foreigners living in the country in its mass vaccination programme to protect the entire population, amid concerns over the scope of vaccine access.

"Anybody living in Thailand, whether they be Thai or foreign, if they want they vaccine, they can get it," Opas Kankawinpong, head of the disease control department, told a briefing.

"No one is safe until everyone is safe," he added.

The government has repeatedly said foreigners would be offered vaccines.

But concerns among expatriates have been raised in recent weeks, with some venting frustrations on social media about a lack of public information, problems registering or confusion over private vaccine availability.

The country needs to immunise about 50 million people to achieve herd immunity of about 70% of the population, based on estimates of 67 million Thais and 3 million foreign residents, he said.

The mass immunisation programme has not started yet. Only frontline workers are getting the shots from the stock of 2.5 million doses of Sinovac vaccines.

Its main source of vaccines will be a local manufacturer set to produce AstraZeneca's vaccines after June.

Anxiety over vaccines has risen as the country deals with its biggest outbreak so far, with more than two-thirds of its 336 fatalities recorded in the past month alone.

New daily infections have been stable at around 2,000 since mid-April. There were 1,911 new coronavirus cases and 18 deaths announced on Thursday.

The Public Health Ministry is working on other ways to include non-Thais in the vaccination programme, including via mobile applications or direct contact from hospitals, according to the Foreign Ministry.

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