The vast majority of Pattaya expats say they are very frustrated by the confusion about enrolment for coronavirus vaccination in the city, with just over half prophesying they won’t have their jabs anytime in 2021. This according to a random survey conducted by Pattaya Mail with 100 expats questioned around the Jomtien immigration bureau area between 28 June and 1 July.
The expats’ main grumble is that they have totally wasted their time turning up at hospitals and vaccination centers, or filling in application forms on the internet, only to discover that they were making no progress whatsoever. Ray Dole, an American retiree, said, “There’s so much fake news out there. I fell for the Twitter nonsense in May that I could get vaccinated if I turned up at the Sports Stadium, only to discover that the vaccines hadn’t even arrived and were reserved for Thais anyway.”
Some European expats said they had managed to get their names on lists at the private sector Pattaya Memorial and Pattaya International Hospitals but without any firm guarantee of dates and time. The Bangkok Hospital Pattaya did open a formal application system on July 1 for the Moderna vaccine, with a promise of appointments late this year or early next. However, the site seems to have been overwhelmed by desperate foreigners and was not operational by afternoon of the same day. One farang said he was told the quota was full.
Two British expats told Pattaya Mail that they had been successful at the publicly-run Pattaya City Hospital, but only because they were in possession of valid work permits for teaching. Other categories of foreigners apparently able to queue-jump include permanent residents (who don’t need any type of visa), those with their names on a blue house book (impossible for most) and people who “help” the government, including court translators and some volunteer police. However, the procedures seem to be of the hit and miss variety.
About 40 percent of those questioned had applied for registration on one of several government-inspired websites in the past two months. Only one appeared to have had positive feedback, with the remainder complaining the site had leaked their private details or totally collapsed or told them to try again later, or even to turn up on March 30 1972. Italian expat Gino Bratti said, “I reckon to have wasted 40 hours on my computer over the past month dealing with impossible online bureaucracies.”
Rumours abound in the city about what will happen to unvaccinated farang even if they stay free of the virus. However, the immigration division in Bangkok has categorically stated that there are no plans at present to require a vaccination certificate or Covid19 insurance of US$100,000 to obtain an extension of stay. That said, an immigration bureau working party has been ordered by the Thai Cabinet to examine these issues. Their report is not expected for several months.