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Update on Vaccinations for American Expats in Thailand

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing vaccinations for American expats in Thailand. A lot of folks have asked me a lot about "well when is the U.S. Embassy going to step in and vaccinate American expats?" 

This especially came up, I got some correspondence on this the other day in light of I believe it was the French Embassy has said that they will be providing vaccination services for their nationals in Thailand. I recently came upon a letter from Michael Heath, the Chargé d'affaires of the Embassy in Thailand. The Chargé when there is no Ambassador to a country, the Chargé d'affaires is sort of the de facto, I hesitate to call him the de facto Ambassador, that is not actually what they are, but they act in lieu of that person. They are the acting head of the mission until a new Ambassador is appointed. 

This letter and you can find this on the U.S. Embassy's website but I just wanted to quote a few things from here that I thought really got to the heart of this. Quoting directly: "The U.S. Diplomatic Mission has not been spared by COVID-19 as several families in our community have endured tragedies from this terrible pandemic." Quoting further: "The U.S. Department of State is unable to provide vaccines to the millions of Americans who reside outside of the United States. For those who wish to return to the United States to be vaccinated, information on vaccine availability at the state level is available at Meanwhile, as Thailand pursues its vaccination program, I will continue to advocate for your equitable access keeping in mind that many Thai citizens are also waiting for their own vaccines." And he goes on to note that they are trying to provide Thailand with assistance in getting vaccines and things of this nature. Not really the crux of the thing that people have been contacting me about. As the Charge brings up in there, just to note that again, "they are unable to provide vaccines to the millions of Americans who reside outside the United States." I mean honestly, I know people get kind of mad at me sometimes when I say things like this but the Embassy's function especially with regard to expats is pretty limited. I mean providing passport services, certain services regarding documentation, yeah assistance with visas for the spouses of an American, they do that, they process that through. But if you live abroad, I think the overall paradigm on that or the overall thinking at a policy level is you have chosen to live in that country. If you have chosen to live in Thailand that is where you have chosen to live. You are not living in Thailand in an American bubble. You are just living in Thailand and you are an American.

I think if they had their druthers they probably would provide vaccines if they could but I don't think people really quite understand the logistical obstacles that would arise to try to provide, I don't know how many American expats are in Thailand. I would have to think probably somewhere around 10,000 I would think total. I am not talking about necessarily about people who are in and out but just people who live here full time unfettered. That may be a low number. In fact, it is probably not a good idea for me to guess on such things but it is a lot of people and we have seen the organizational and logistical problems that come with the warp speed program in the United States. I mean it really was quite a feat of organizational acumen to get things rolled out as quickly as they were rolled out in America. We are seeing issues in getting things rolled out in Thailand certainly. For the State Department to have to do that on a miniaturized level for every Embassy throughout the world, that would be a daunting project. I am not saying it is impossible but it would be difficult and I personally don't and this is a personal opinion, but I personally don't really expect the Embassy to do that for me. Now I take the position that I immigrated here and notwithstanding the fact that I love the old country, I mean I live and work here and my roots are kind of more here, but I do understand people that view that as maybe a responsibility of the Embassy but I just think under the circumstances, we have to just kind of deal with the local conditions.