COVID-19 vaccination ageism reaches a new level in Thailand

Sep 21, 2021 | All posts, Country reports, Relevant news and stories

Peter Lloyd-Sherlock, 21 September 2021.

Thailand has a strong tradition of family respect and support for older people, but there are signs that the COVID-19 pandemic has put these norms under pressure, both in terms of family behaviour and in state policy.

According to media reports a few weeks ago [UCA News. Elderly left to die as Thailand’s Covid crisis worsens. July 30, 2021.]:

“An 80-year-old Thai man was driven by his daughter and her husband to a village temple in the northeastern province of Nakhon Ratchasima and left to his fate, lying helplessly on a dirt trail leading to the Buddhist monastery of Wat Pa Suan Thamma Sawaddee.

“The octogenarian, who was infected with Covid-19, was likely dumped by his daughter so that she would not have to take care of him during a raging months-long outbreak of the contagion that has seen human misery reach endemic proportions….

“The day before, another octogenarian was found lying alone at Victory Monument in the heart of Bangkok. Vendors plying their trade nearby discovered the 80-year-old man and alerted health officials, who arrived too late as he had already died, with Covid-19 suspected as the cause.”

These are only isolated reports, but they indicate that family support for older people with COVID-19 is not guaranteed.

More significantly, it is clear that government vaccination has prioritised younger age groups ahead of older Thais, despite their significantly higher risk of dying of COVID-19.


COVID-19 case Fatality Rates by age group.

Source: Thailand Ministry of Public Health, 9 May 2021.


This chart speaks for itself:


Previous posts on the Global Platform and other related publications have described the vaccination policies of countries such as Bulgaria, the Philippines and India and fundamentally ageist. Yet none of those countries has equalled Thailand’s “achievement” of doubling the rate of vaccination among people aged 18 to 59, compared to those aged 60 or more. It is claimed that this was the result of the Thai government prioritising the tourist industry and people living in the capital city.

The consequence of this ageist vaccination policy will have been thousands of avoidable deaths. Through August 2021, while doses were being provided to millions of low risk younger adults, Thailand experienced a sudden and unprecedented wave of COVID-19 deaths. The large majority of those deaths were unvaccinated older people.


Reported COVID-19 deaths in Thailand.