Ever since Thailand’s mass vaccination drive began on June 7th, I’ve been inundated with calls and texts from my fellow expats in the country asking whether they can register for a COVID-19 vaccine.
To which I reply, good news! Despite weeks of confusing messages from authorities, it’s now confirmed that expats in Thailand are eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine. But, hold your horses! At the moment, there’s a long wait for expats under the age of 60. This comes amidst news of supply issues, and frustration at what is a less-than-smooth delivery system.
It’s clear that expats (and Thais!) have been desperate for a jab - largely due to the third and deadliest wave of the outbreak. As I work for an expat-focused health insurance brokerage, it’s my job to support clients on healthcare-related matters, so I thought I’d summarize Thailand’s COVID-19 vaccine program and how to register for a jab.
Keeping track of the largest-ever inoculation program
Under Thailand’s mass vaccination drive, authorities are mainly relying on locally-produced AstraZeneca vaccines, as well as some imported Sinovac vaccines. Certain organisations in the country are also offering Sinopharm vaccines. Additionally, there are talks of the government importing Pfizer (and possibly Johnson & Johnson) vaccines later in the year.
Let’s get down to numbers. Thailand has a population of approximately 67 million Thais and 3 million expats. The country aims to administer 6 million doses in June and vaccinate 70% of the population by the end of 2021. Daily vaccination updates (along with daily COVID-19 cases) are announced on the @thaimoph facebook page.
As of June 13th 2021, a total of 6,188,124 doses have been administered:
- First dose: 4,531,914 people
- Second dose: 1,656,210 people
Registering for a jab as an expat
Thais and expats use different channels to register for a jab. Applications and websites like Mor Phrom, Thai Ruam Jai, and Pao Tang, amongst others, are targeted at Thais. For expats, there is the Thailandintervac website. Please note that it’s necessary to register ahead of time, as walk-in registration will not be available. In the initial phase, eligible foreigners* include:
- Those who are 60 years and older; OR
- Those who have one of the following underlying conditions: Severe Chronic Respiratory Disease (CRDs), Coronary artery disease (CAD), Chronic kidney disease (CKD) (5th stage), Stroke, Cancer patients receiving chemotherapy, Diabetes and Obesity (weight > 100 kg or BMI > 35 kg/m2)
*Other categories of foreign nationals will be able to register using this website at a later period.
That being said, the Thailandintervac website isn’t without challenges and has faced a couple of setbacks in recent days. If you’re an expat in Thailand, and would like a COVID-19 vaccine, it may also be worth speaking to your employer or your local hospital who can guide you through the next steps for registration.
For expats living in other major cities and provinces like Phuket and Chiang Mai, you can also check out the links below:
FAQs about COVID-19 vaccines and insurance coverage
From all the questions and queries I get asked, these are the top three most common ones:
Will I be able to get the COVID-19 vaccines privately?
Unfortunately, the only way to get a COVID-19 vaccine in Thailand at the moment is through the government’s mass inoculation program. While there is news that private facilities/hospitals may be able to get Moderna vaccines later on in the year, there’s nothing concrete nor confirmed as of the time of writing.
Will my insurance policy cover privately-administered COVID-19 vaccines?
In short, it depends on the insurer and policy in question. As most countries (including Thailand) have government-run COVID-19 vaccine programs free of charge, some insurers will only cover privately-administered vaccines if it is deemed medically necessary, while others will cover the vaccine in line with your specific policy cover, terms, and conditions.
Will my insurance policy cover COVID-19 vaccine complications (e.g. allergic reaction)?
Yes, in most cases you should be covered for any COVID-19 vaccine complications under your standard inpatient and/or outpatient benefits. That being said, I always remind clients to thoroughly go over their policy’s T&Cs and FAQs to make sure they’re crystal clear on what is and isn’t covered.
I hope this summary has been helpful, and I wish you all the best in registering for and getting the COVID-19 vaccine. If you’ve got any questions at all - either about the vaccine program or about expat health insurance, you’re more than welcome to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact my team at Pacific Prime.