Fake news: Pattaya expats should rush to the Sports Stadium for free vaccinations

Scary photos often accompany fake news items on social media.

Large numbers of Pattaya expats appear to have been fooled by a widely-circulated report on social media that they could obtain free anti-Covid jabs by visiting the Sports Stadium in Jomtien between 14 and 16 May.  According to the nonsense report, both Thais and farang would be serviced on a first-come first served basis.

City Hall has asked the English-speaking press in particular to stress that there is no such event planned this week.  Whilst it is true that Pattaya mayor Sonthaya Kunplome has visited the Stadium to assess its suitability for a mass program, the actual Sinovac vaccines have not yet even arrived in Pattaya.  The mayor stressed that, initially, only Thais living in Chonburi and with a 13-digit Thai ID would be eligible for the two-jab treatment.

However, Pattaya hopes to admit vaccinated foreigners without quarantining in Thailand, in a Sandbox deal beginning on October 1.  If that is to proceed, 70 percent of Chonburi residents including foreigners must have been vaccinated by then.  Thus foreigners will be able to register for free vaccination beginning in June.

Beware: the Jomtien Sports Stadium is not inviting you for a free jab.

Foreigners will also, if they wish, enroll at private hospitals during the summer for paid vaccination which is likely to be the AstraZeneca version.  There are no firm calendar dates yet available, but a spokesman for a famous Pattaya private hospital said “we expect good news in June”.  The government claims that the private sector has agreed to vaccinate as many people as possible, quickly and cheaply.

Meanwhile, the Department of Special Investigation’s anti-fake news force has now arrested nearly 300 individuals for publishing or spreading coronavirus fake news on the internet.  A police spokesperson said the most common nonsenses were that the disease was spread by 5G spectrum radio frequencies, that assorted herbs and medical treatments fought off the virus and that foreigners would be given spoiled vaccines to “decrease the surplus population”.  She explained that fake news often handicapped the government’s attempts to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

Separately, immigration police have repeated that there is no planned compulsory vaccination required for a visa extension or renewal.  Commenting via the 1178 hotline, a spokesperson said, “With so few people yet vaccinated in Thailand, it would obviously be an impossible rule.  She added that all entrants to Thailand at present, vaccinated or not, must undergo a compulsory 15 nights’ quarantine.  In other words, wait and see and never try to hurry the Orient.