After losing countless fares during the pandemic, Thai taxi driver Sombat Subin has sought to reassure nervous clients by letting them know in three languages on the sign above his cab that he has been vaccinated against COVID-19.
“I think the lit-up sign creates confidence for passengers and I feel that it has also helped increase my income,” said Sombat, from Nonthaburi, a province north of Bangkok.
The 43-year-old said the sign, which reads “Vaccine” and then “COVID” with a tick next to it and appears in Thai, English and Mandarin, was a conversation piece in his taxi.
“It’s to confirm to them that the driver has been fully vaccinated… So, the passengers are not afraid,” he said.
Sombat said he became a taxi driver three years ago after finding working in an office stifling. Before the pandemic, he earned about 60,000 baht (US$1,920) a month, but this has slumped to as little as 10,000 baht during the latest wave of infections.
Thailand had managed to largely contain virus cases for much of last year, but since April has struggled to quell its most serious outbreak so far that includes more contagious variants.
This has increased pressure on authorities to speed up vaccinations with the country’s rollout lagging many neighbours.
Only 2.7 million Thais have received a first vaccine dose and the government has been scrambling to source more.
Authorities have tried to prioritize frontline workers including taxi drivers and public transport staff.
Kanokwan Sattawong, a passenger in Sombat’s taxi, said: “I feel more confident when drivers are fully vaccinated and feel safe to use public transportation.”