‘Illegal immigrants, refugees won’t be left out’

PENANG will work with the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) to ensure undocumented immigrants and refugees receive their vaccines.

State health committee chairman Dr Norlela Ariffin said each of them would receive a single-dose vaccine through the mobile vaccination unit outreach programme.

“We will be working with the state’s CITF to vaccinate the undocumented immigrants and refugees in Penang.

“A single-dose vaccine will be dispensed via the outreach programme,” she said, declining to elaborate further.

In June, a news portal had reported that Penang would work with Doctors Without Borders and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to complete the task.

Some 20,000 people are believed to be registered with UNHCR but due to fear of being detained by the immigration authorities, they shun away from the mainstream vaccination programmes.

UNHCR has expressed that one-dose vaccines are preferred as refugees are often moving around.

Norlela, however, said some 6,000 foreign workers with valid documents had been vaccinated at various vaccination centres (PPV) under the Public-Private Partnership Industrial Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (Pikas).

State welfare, caring society and environment committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said foreign workers who had registered under the MySejahtera app would be vaccinated.

“We have been unofficially advised that all migrant workers will be vaccinated, as long as they have registered themselves for the vaccination programme under the MySejahtera app,” he said.

On July 25, National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme coordinating minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the CITF had approved guidelines for illegal immigrants and refugees to receive Covid-19 vaccine shots.

He said it would enable illegal immigrants and refugees to be present at PPVs for vaccination and the details on the matter would be announced later.

Khairy said non-governmental organisations such as the Malaysian Red Crescent Society would be involved in the vaccination exercise for refugees and illegal immigrants as they would be more comfortable if the PPVs are handled by NGOs, which have been giving health services to these groups.

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