I’m not sure it will catch on in Pattaya bars somehow.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the idea of having a vaccine passport recently. When you have been stuck inside for months (except for the occasional visit to the supermarket) such matters tend to take on disproportionate importance.

Before I waffle on too long let me say straight away I think that they are a good idea and I’m all in favour. But I understand others may not be so keen. And, to an extent, I understand why.

There are those out there who simply do not get on with injections. The sight of a needle turns their stomach over. On this count I am 100% sympathetic. I spent the first 40-50 years of my life trying to avoid having injections. If I absolutely had to have one I would ask to lie down and turn away while it was performed. Once, in my 20s, I had a blood test and the performer of the test made the mistake of letting me see the blood. I fainted… and I was not a small bloke to lift up afterwards. Blood or needle? To me, it made little difference at the time. Subsequently, I was told that you cannot faint if you are lying down. I have followed the advice ever since and it seems to work.

My needle aversion came to an end when I ‘discovered’ diabetes. It had to. At first I tried to contain it with pills but, eventually, I succumbed to the need to inject insulin daily. In the early days my Thai wife would administer the jabs while I looked away. But, when you are not together every day it all becomes a bit problematic. Either I learned to administer the jabs myself or I was in trouble. I learned!

One of those early ‘must have’ injections was to allow me to make my first visit to Thailand back in the late 1970s. At the time you were obliged to protect yourself against the chances of catching yellow fever and a few other nasties that now escape my memory or you wouldn’t be allowed in. I could contend that having a vaccine passport now would merely symbolise a reintroduction of those bygone days.

I recall the yellow fever for two reasons. One, the booklet containing the proof that I had had the jab had a yellow cover. Two, I was to catch ‘yellow fever’, as an old mate described it, years later by marrying two Thai women.

So, if your aversion to having injections is real, much sympathy. I’m not sure you ought to be banned from travelling anywhere. But, by the same token, I could understand why another country might be reluctant to let you in. It’s a Catch-22!

Then there is the slightly more contentious point. There are those who feel that being obliged to have the vaccine infringes their civil liberties. I am all for civil liberties, but I draw the line at having freedom to threaten the health of others.

And that is the way I see it. If your refusal to have a vaccine were only to affect you, then, sure, exercise your freedom of choice. If that means you end up popping your clogs, your call. However, I hope I am properly reflecting the medical advice when I say that if enough people don’t have the vaccine, the chance of Covid-19 hanging around increases exponentially. It may hang around for a long time anyway. These illnesses have a nasty habit of lingering on and never being totally conquered. But, let’s not make the situation any worse that it needs to be.

By the way, I am not alone in feeling this way. Research carried out in the UK has shown that close to two-thirds of people (64%) feel that employers should be allowed to require employees to get the vaccine before they are allowed to return to work. What’s more, 35% of all UK workers surveyed said they would not work in the same office or work environment as someone who has refused the Covid-19 vaccination. The research, which polled more than 1,000 people, was performed by a Human Resources software provider, CIPIHR.

So, don’t mess around, have the vaccine! You owe it to others, if not yourself.

An interesting twist to the vaccine passport debate emerged recently when UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the throw-away remark that perhaps pubs should/could ask to see proof you have had the vaccine before they will serve you a drink. I almost choked on my at-home G&T. Definitely a throw-away remark that deserved to be thrown away.

Imagine it, you have a full pub with punters losing their cool about the time it takes to get served and then you lob in an extra delaying tactic – ‘let me see your vaccine passport’. I could foresee booze-fuelled riots.

The slogan would be: Have a shot before you drink a shot. I expect only a small royalty should you wish to use it.

Could there be a way of speeding up the process? Perhaps, you could have an app on your phone that you show to a reader before the door opens to let you in. What do you bet me that someone is already working on the idea?

Such an approach would not be without complications.

Example? What happens to those who don’t own a mobile? There are some still out there though my perception is that even the poorest people in Thailand somehow manage to own a mobile phone.

Or what would happen if, say, a group of four mates – only one of whom has had the jab – roll up to a bar. He uses his phone app to gain entry for all four but three of them, potentially, are a danger to others. I also have visions of thirsty people stopping others as they pass a bar and ask them to show their vaccine app to the reader because they don’t have the app.

Of course, the ‘show the app before you are allowed in’ idea would only work at fully enclosed bars such as my favourite on the Darkside – Murphy’s in Soi Khao Noi. Fully enclosed is the exception, not the rule, in Pattaya. And, anyhow, I couldn’t imagine Steve Murphy ‘wasting’ hard-earned profits on fancy readers and release devices for each of the three entrances (not counting the staff entrance). Nah!

How about the ability to combine contactless payments with the ‘I’ve had a jab’ app? Contactless credit (or debit) card readers exist just about everywhere in UK retail now. It’s coming, Thailand, get used to the idea. Trust me, you’ll never want to go back to the old way of paying for small purchases. Such an app would allow you to pay for the drinks and prove you have had the jab at the same time. Result!

Bring on the vaccine passport or suitable phone app, I say. I am Captain Smuggo in as much as I have had my first jab and expect the second in about 10 weeks’ time. The next day I felt a little feverish (I was told to expect this) but now all is well and I feel a lot more confident when outside my condo as a result. I hope I have not spoken too soon!


Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past publications worked for include the South-East London Mercury*, Kent Messenger, Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor for an East Midlands-based publishing group.