Hundreds of elderly Pattaya expats take advantage of free, walk-in Covid vaccination

Australian expat John Haddon receives his free shot at Ban Sue Central Station.

At least 400 Pattaya-based foreigners have already taken advantage of the Astra Zeneca free inoculation scheme on offer at Bangkok’s Ban Sue Central Station, currently a government-run vaccination center. The scheme invites people of any nationality aged 75 and over to walk-in, without prior registration, any day in office hours until the afternoon of Sunday July 18.

Customers can live anywhere in Thailand and need take only their current passport and proof of address, such as their driving licence or house registration paperwork, without any copies being necessary. There is a strict check on age: the walk-in service is not now available to younger expats under 75 (although it was briefly last week). There is a blood pressure test which has a generously high-limit of around 170/100 to allow for nerves or the “white-coat syndrome.”

Following a registration process, the first-dose of the Astra Zeneca vaccine is then administered by nursing staff who require the patient to sit in a reserved area for 30 minutes’ rest before being allowed to exit the building. There is nothing to pay. The organization is very good and the whole experience on site is normally two hours or less. Wheelchairs are available and there are friendly Thai staff on hand to assist, if and when necessary. Carers are usually admitted but will not be vaccinated unless qualified by age.

The Ban Sue Central Station is very busy with vaccinations, but very efficiently deals with 5,000 plus patients daily.

Ban Sue Station will replace Hua Lamphong railways station for all long-distance services in November this year. It will be the largest railway station in South East Asia with 26 platforms. The station currently houses vaccination services only, mainly for Thais in designated groupings, but also for foreigners who have passed their 75th birthday. A total of at least 5,000 Astra Zeneca vaccinations are being administered daily at the center. Those receiving their first vaccination get a letter on site confirming their second appointment, specifically 12 weeks ahead.

Elderly expats travelling recently from Pattaya (July 14 morning), said they did not meet any daytime police checkpoints in either direction. The advice is to go with a Thai-speaking companion who can answer any questions from officials and park your vehicle if travelling by car. The entrance and exit points at Ban Sue are at opposite ends of a huge complex. There is a regular, free bus service linking them. Wheelchair customers receive additional assistance.