Opinion: Seven days was all it took for the government’s vaccine rollout to fail

On June 7, coup leader Prayut Chan-o-cha flanked by Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul and members of his Covid-19 management team declared that there would be no delays in the distribution of the vaccines.

Just over a week later, that promise has fallen flat on its face.

All the pomp and circumstance of the opening ceremony that Prime Minister Prayut and his entourage demanded at Bang Sue station on June 7 was for naught.

Dozens of hospitals around the country announced this weekend that they have to delay the administering of vaccines in Bangkok starting this week due to supply shortages from the Ministry of Public Health. We do not yet know how long the vaccines will be delayed, whether it is by weeks or by months.

My family’s vaccination was slated to be taking place on June 15th and since yesterday we all were taking all precautions, especially my frail mother who has had a kidney transplant and brain surgery in the past 4-years.

The aim was to get her inoculated with AstraZeneca, the vaccine that has faced persistent delays thanks to the inefficient management of Siam BioScience, especially for my mother, as she cannot take SinoVac Vaccine. .

When Bumrungrad hospital called to inform us that the vaccine would be delayed, I checked and realized that the delay was for every Bangkok private hospital.

Make no mistake, these hospitals are not at fault for the delay. As Anutin himself had earlier said, ‘hospitals cannot make the call to delay the vaccination and only listen to the Ministry of Public Health’.

So to the public health minister, I ask, who will take responsibility for my family and others just like ours who have to deal with the consequences of your mismangement.

Mismanagement of Distribution

Delays are not uncommon but what has brought me back to the editorial pages since my days at the Bangkok Post is the fact that I have had interactions with so many people who are in the age group of 20-30 who have been vaccinated with AstraZeneca due to the sheer mismanagement of the Moo Prom, Thai RuamJai, and other applications that this inefficient government has put in place.

It is inefficient and bad public policy.

Many people would say that this failure should hardly be surprising given the people in charge of the government. But to see such abject failure only seven days after so much ceremony is especially shocking.

Where is your promise General Prayut?

He dared to call journalists and citizens saying there would be delays as rumour spreaders or peddlers of fake news.

The news is not so fake anymore is it?

Perhaps even worse than the delay in vaccination for the people has been the lack of accountability. Rather than tell people the truth, they hide behind grand ceremonies and promises and stay silent when everything goes wrong.

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