22 May 2024

Thailand is offering a rich menu of incentives for people to get jabs during the just-launched mass vaccination drive, with the country targeting herd community by year-end.

As of June 10, more than 5.66 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered, while 4.13 million people had been jabbed at least once. Vaccinees are being rewarded for contributing to disease-control efforts with various benefits, including free food and greater freedom to travel.

Tempting treats for vaccinees

Zen Japanese restaurants have been offering free takoyaki (squid-batter balls) and AKA eateries have been giving free kimchi soup to vaccinees who order at least one item of paid food. Not in the mood for Japanese? Don’t worry, the same offer applies at Din outlets (free Taiwanese dumplings), at On the Table (free Arabiki sausage salad), Laoyuan by Tummour (free Tummour spicy salad), and at Khiang (chicken with holy basil and rice). The promotions run till June 30.

Meanwhile, Neo Suki is offering discounts for vaccinees till July 31, with its takeaway The Box set dropping from Bt799 to Bt699 and its dine-in Neo Hit set reduced to Bt200.

MBK Centre, meanwhile, is handing out Bt40 bags of rice to vaccinees who spend at least Bt100 at the mall from May 28 to June 30. They also get a choice of free popcorn or a beverage at Major Cineplex theatres till the end of this month.

Travel rewards are also on the menu.

Nakhonchai Air, which operates cross-country VIP buses, is offering jab recipients a 5 per cent discount on fares and NCA express delivery services.

Tips and tricks to make life a little easier – and tastier – before and after vaccination

As more of us become eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine, we are increasingly concerned about preparing, including what to eat and drink before and after we get our shots. Potential adverse side effects, we are warned, range from a sore arm to fever, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, nausea, and diarrhea.

Special offers for would-be vaccinees

If you are still waiting for your jab, don’t worry: you too get a tasty buffet of free promotions. Bar-B-Q Plaza and Joom Zap Hut, for example, are offering free fried gyoza worth Bt79 to customers who produce evidence of either a COVID-19 jab or vaccination booking on top of spending at least Bt120 at their outlets between June 1 and 14.

Sweet delight on vaccination day

Reports of side effects from vaccination, such as low fever, may leave Thais worried as they line up for the jab. However, Wall’s Thailand is lightening the mood by offering free ice-cream bars at vaccination sites from June 7 onward.

“We want to restore your smile,” said the company as it launched the pro-vaccination campaign to serve one million ice-cream bars at various jab stations around the country.

Meanwhile, the authorities in Chiang Mai’s Mae Chaem district are putting a cow up for draw every week in a bid to encourage villagers to get a jab. For 24 weeks, one lucky vaccinee will be randomly chosen every week to win a young cow worth about Bt10,000.

Other provinces have also come up with creative campaigns to motivate people to register, such as giving away gold necklaces.

A guide to Thailand’s 3 vaccination paths

Adults in Thailand, including foreign expats, now have three paths to COVID-19 vaccination, getting a free shot through government schemes, getting a free shot arranged by the private sector, or booking a paid shot at their chosen location.

Greater travel freedom

Several provincial authorities have imposed restrictions on people travelling from high-risk provinces such as Bangkok.

For example, Bangkok residents who want to visit Phuket must produce evidence of a negative COVID-19 test taken within seven days of arrival. If their destination is Samui, they must test negative three days prior to travelling.

However, the hassle of COVID-19 tests is removed completely for visitors who have already had their jabs. Phuket waives the test for any traveller who has already been fully vaccinated or has received at least one shot of AstraZeneca. Visitors to Samui require the full two-dose inoculation.

Jab recipients are also eligible for Thailand’s international vaccine certificate, which should remove obstacles to overseas travel under the “vaccine-passport concept”.  Many countries, including those in the European Union and nations with tourism-dependent economies, are pushing ahead with vaccine passport plans or allowing vaccinated visitors to skip quarantine requirements.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is also developing an app called Travel Pass that will enable users to upload documentation that proves their vaccination status. It will also allow passengers to check health entry requirements for countries they plan to visit and find COVID-testing centers either before they travel or upon arrival.

By Thai PBS World’s General Desk