Anutin Charnvirakul, Thailand’s controversial health minister and deputy prime minister, was interviewed yesterday by the Daily News about what the media called the latest Thai health drama.
According to the minister, unvaccinated people would not have access to certain services and in some cases would not even get a job. Some Thais have now loudly sounded the alarm, comparing this to being treated like lepers.
The minister, often criticized for incendiary and superficial remarks, took a more moderate, reasoned tone, reporters note.
He even mentioned his own experience with a trip to a WHO meeting in Switzerland that he was not allowed to attend, saying that not being vaccinated is a basic human right. You can’t force anyone to get vaccinated.
But he also believed that business owners and those providing services to the public had a right to serve whoever they wanted to protect themselves, their other staff and their other customers. This is especially true in the tourism industry, he noted.
Employers also have the right to insist that certain employees in certain companies should only be allowed to work for them if they have been vaccinated. Such cases have already been raised abroad, he noted, and Thailand would be no different.
He stressed the importance of anyone who can get vaccinated because it protects you and means far fewer potential health problems if you do get infected.
He emphasized again that vaccination does not mean that you cannot get infected, but that people who are vaccinated are very unlikely to need intubation or die.
He continued to advise practical measures such as social distancing while fully understanding people’s reluctance to be around unvaccinated people.
Some in society, especially the “Wappies” have said that draconian rules mean that those who choose not to be vaccinated or who are exempt are treated as lepers in society.
Anutin said society was still coming to terms with the pandemic and its aftermath. He cited his own experiences about the now well-known affair that he was not allowed to enter Switzerland. He said the reality was that he could have gotten a visa after two doses of Sinovac.
But he should have stayed there at his hotel once and couldn’t attend the WHO meeting or even go to a restaurant. He realized he needed a booster shot to do his job right there. So he would have to do that to meet their entry requirements.
He compared this not unreasonably with other employees who had to be vaccinated in order to do their job.
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