Covid Task Force Upate 2: #TaxedButNotVaxxed

Democrats Abroad Thailand Chair, Paul Risley, source: Reuters

With the goal of urging and assisting the US government to fulfill its pledge of making coronavirus vaccines available to all Americans, including the tens of thousands of US citizens living in Thailand, the Democrats Abroad COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force has taken actions to collect and share information on the situation and advocate for access to vaccines.

Thank you to everyone who completed the survey! We received 1,220 responses so far, showing that 87% of respondents are extremely or very concerned about COVID-19 and that there is a strong level of interest in vaccination: 98% want a US-provided vaccine. 

During our recent discussions with the acting US ambassador, Michael Heath, we shared the survey results and the concerns of DA Thailand members about vaccination. The State Department has designated approximately 80% of the world’s country as Level 4 Travel Advisory due to COVID-19, noting that this “continues to pose unprecedented risks to travelers," and overseas residents are advised to follow local guidelines.  Situation updates and alerts are available on the embassy website or via email through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program at https://step.state.gov

After meeting with the embassy, the Task Force submitted a letter to the US Secretary of State, along with members of Congress and the administration, requesting that the US government provide surplus vaccines to Americans overseas. Other American-focused organizations have joined us in this effort by co-signing the letter, including the American Women’s Club, Republicans Overseas and Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 12074.

The Task Force is also raising the profile of this important issue, and there has been substantial interest from the media, with news articles in several outlets highlighting the situation of Americans overseas whose tax dollars helped fund the development and production of vaccines, yet remain without access to them in many countries. The press coverage included a question in a White House press briefing by Voice of America White House bureau chief Steve Herman on May 11.

#TaxedButNotVaxxed – The hashtag call for action. Please use this in all of your social media posting about this issue.

Although we remain hopeful that foreign residents in Thailand will be included in the local vaccination program, we will continue to reach out to the Biden administration and our representatives in Thailand and the US to ensure vaccination is available and take other actions to highlight this crucial issue for the health and safety of Americans in Thailand. As President Biden said in the Rose Garden on May 13, 2021, “Let’s remember, we’re all Americans. Let’s remember that we are all in this together…And we have to take this pandemic, tackle it not just here, but overseas as well to truly be safe in the long run.”