Covid-19: Govt needs to determine which vulnerable, high-risk groups will be given priority for vaccination, says MMA

  • Nation
  • Monday, 21 Sep 2020

FILE PHOTO: A woman holds a small bottle labeled with a "Vaccine COVID-19" sticker and a medical syringe in this illustration taken April 10, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

PETALING JAYA: The government must determine which 20% of Malaysians will be given Covid-19 vaccinations once it is made available in the country, says Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president Dr N. Ganabaskaran.

"We will need to determine which vulnerable or high-risk groups will be given priority for vaccination.

"This can be a challenge and an important decision that needs to be made in the near future," he said in a statement on Monday (Sept 21).

He noted that the universal approach would be to prioritise vulnerable groups for vaccination.

"Who will fall under the category as 'vulnerable' or high-risk will need to be determined and listed in proper order.

"This needs to be well planned ahead of vaccine distribution," he said.

While lauding the government's move to join 172 countries in the global Covax Covid-19 vaccine access plan co-led by the World Health Organisation (WHO), he said there is still a need for the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry (Mosti) to work closely with the Health Ministry on the matter.

"Apart from consulting experts and professional groups, the government is urged to engage with stakeholders and gather public feedback," he said, adding that regular updates on the status of Covax plan should be made public.

"The public should be involved in the decision-making process," he said.

Dr Ganabaskaran said that MMA also supported the Mosti’s suggestion for the vaccine to be made free to the public.

Under the Covax vaccine plan, countries will have access to the vaccine subject to funding availability and where funded countries will receive enough doses to vaccinate up to 20% of their population in the long term.

Last week, MMA raised questions on whether Malaysia was part of the Covax vaccine plan.

On Saturday (Sept 19), Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin assured that Malaysia would participate in the Covax vaccine plan and is currently discussing the terms of Malaysia’s participation.

Khairy also said that the government was preparing an agreement to join the Coalition for Epidemic and Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

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