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COVID-19: Health Workers Strongly Urge Thai-Burma Border Communities to Get Vaccinated

Healthcare providers on the Thai-Burma border urged the migrant communities along the Thai-Burma border to make sure they get vaccinated for the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 in their communities.

The pandemic is far from ending and as new variants of the virus emerge and spread around the world, healthcare providers working for migrant communities, including Mae Sot General Hospital, Mae Tao Clinic and Shoklo Malaria Research Unit (SMRU), are stepping up their awareness raising campaign of the importance of getting vaccinated against COVID-19 to reduce the risk of being infected and its health impacts.

Ms May, a health worker with Mae Sot Hospital’s Infectious Disease Control and Border Health Department, explained the importance of vaccination in the fight to stop COVID-19.

“If you are old enough to be vaccinated and are healthy at the time of vaccination, your legal status does not matter – all migrants should get vaccinated if given the opportunity.”

Health officials said getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and is now the priority of public health officials in many parts of the world, including migrant areas along the Thai-Burma border.

Doctor Aung Pyae Pyoe, a senior researcher and health consultant at Sholo Malaria Research Unit-SMRU, is working along the border in Tak Province, Thailand, said.

“If you are not vaccinated, there can be negative impacts on your health, social life, and business. As a COVID-19 carrier, you might bring harm to your children, family, roommates, colleagues, village, and many more people. You need to consider this [and get vaccinated].”

Dr. Aung Pyae Phyo said, vaccines used in different parts of the world, including Thailand and Burma are safe, as they have been officially tested and approved by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Dr. Aung Pyae Phyo stressed the importance of migrant communities being made aware of the safety of the vaccines that are now approved and used widely.

“The eight most commonly used vaccines have already gone through four stages of vaccine development. They have been tested on either animals or in the lab. Studies and research of the effectiveness on healthy young people has been done. Tens of thousands of people have been vaccinated. In addition, there is data on the side effects from millions of people who have been vaccinated. If we consider all of this research – all of these vaccines can be considered safe to use.”

Ko Ar Lue, a community health worker in the Burma migrant community on the Thai border, told Karen News that there were still people who were afraid to get vaccinated due to the misinformation regarding the COVID-19 vaccine side effects, circulating on social media and within communities.

Ko Ar Lue said he was confused after reading social media posts.

“On the internet and on Facebook, they said some people had died or fainted after getting vaccines. I was scared. I was worried about getting vaccinated or not. I discussed with my wife if we should get vaccinated and I realized we needed to get the vaccine. When senior health officials visited us, I talked to them. If I were not vaccinated, they would have not wanted to meet or communicate with me. I thought, what happens if I have the virus and go and visit my pregnant friend? I felt concerned I might infect her. So, finally, I decided to get vaccinated.”

Health professionals working on the Thai-Burma border said they want to reinforce the message to migrant communities that COVID-19 vaccination has been proven to stop the spread of the disease and significantly reduce the risks of suffering severe symptoms and the risk of hospitalization and death.

Dr. Pyae Phyo Aung said getting vaccinated reduces the risk of people being hospitalized and dying from COVID-19.

“By getting the complete doses of COVID-19 vaccines, findings show that it reduces getting infected, if people do get infected, vaccination has been proven to reduce severe symptoms and hospitalization. It also reduces the death rate significantly.”

After the Thai Ministry of Public Health opened its nationwide vaccination program for people, including migrant communities, border healthcare providers and labor activists estimate 80 percent of the more than 400,000 Burmese migrant populations in nine districts in Tak province on the Thai-Burma border have already been vaccinated.

The Thai Public Health Ministry announced on the morning of January 27, 2022 that it registered 22 more COVID-19 fatalities and 8,078 new cases during the previous 24 hours, and more than two million people nationwide have now been infected with the virus. Its latest data shows that the Thai-Burma border province of Tak recorded 42 new cases on January 27, 2022 and more than 27,000 cases.

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