The Central Administrative Court has issued an injunction to suspend the enforcement of a Public Health Ministry announcement that does not cover people who experience side effects or undesirable conditions caused by alternative COVID-19 vaccines administered by private hospitals.
The injunction was issued on Friday against Clause No 3 of the announcement dated 23rd July.
Under the clause, recipients of free vaccines under the government’s national vaccination drive who experience undesirable conditions or side-effects from the jabs are entitled to free emergency treatment at state hospitals.
However, this does not apply to recipients of alternative vaccines provided by private hospitals which charge fees for the vaccination service, according to the clause. The injunction stems from a petition by lawyer Ratchapol Panthongphan against the Public Health Ministry.
He said he registered to buy Moderna vaccines for himself and his family for 13,200 baht from a private hospital, adding that he thought his case might benefit the public so he decided to take it to the court.
As a consumer, he was entitled to free public health services and protection against diseases provided by the state. He said the announcement’s clause is against the law and discriminates against people socially and economically. It also hinders state efforts to create herd immunity.
According to the court’s injunction, alternative vaccines provided by hospitals that charge vaccination fees are also approved by the Food and Drug Administration. If recipients of such vaccines develop undesirable conditions or side effects, they should receive free emergency treatment at state hospitals, the court said.
Since the ministry’s announcement does not consider recipients of alternative vaccines from private hospitals as emergency patients, this may be deemed as an act of discrimination against people who are entitled to the state’s public health service as guaranteed by Sections 27 and 47 of the constitution, the court said.
The clause may be against the law and if its enforcement is allowed to continue pending the court’s ruling, it may cause damage to the public, the court said.
If recipients of such alternative vaccines do not receive emergency treatment at state hospitals in a timely manner, this could put their life at risk, it said.
The court said the injunction should not pose an obstacle to the government’s public health service management.
Dr Thiravat Hemachudha, the Thai Red Cross Emerging Infectious Diseases Health Science Centre chief, said the government will now have to provide free treatment for those who experience undesirable conditions regardless of where they received their shots.