Thai court stays order denying free emergency treatment of side effects of vaccines purchased at private hospitals

On Friday, the Thai Central Administrative Court ordered a stay of the Ministry of Public Health order, which excludes people who suffer side effects after being inoculated with alternative COVID-19 vaccines at private hospitals from eligibility for free emergency medical treatment.

The court’s stay, which is enforceable until withdrawn by the court, follows a lawsuit filed against the Public Health Ministry by an independent lawyer, Ratchaphol Panthongphan.

In the lawsuit, Ratchaphol told the court that, as a citizen, he is eligible for free medical treatment from the state in the prevention or treatment of dangerous communicable diseases.

He said that the ministry’s order, which refuses to classify people inoculated with paid alternative vaccines and suffer from side effects as “emergency patients” and thus ineligible for free emergency treatment, is discriminatory and unfair.

Ratchaphol and his family have paid for the Moderna mRNA vaccine from a private hospital. He told the court that he thought his lawsuit against the Public Health Ministry would benefit the public in general.

The court noted that the COVID-19 vaccines, which areprovided free of charge to people by the Ministry of Public Health, and the alternative vaccines provided by private hospitals at a fee, are all approved by the Thai Food and Drug Administration.

Hence, the court ruled that the ministry’s announcement is discriminatory and unfair to people who are supposed to have equal access to health services from the state, as enshrined in the Thai Constitution.

The court said that the fact that a person was inoculated with an approved but paid alternative vaccine at a private hospital should not pose an obstacle to the management of health services, as the Public Health Ministry is duty-bound to provide health services to everyone in the fight to contain the pandemic.


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