KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians should be fully briefed on Covid-19 vaccines and the immunisation process, says Alliance for Safe Community chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye (pic).
"Whatever we do, we cannot afford to make mistakes and botch the plan if it is implemented without a comprehensive and scientific assessment of the risks and downsides of either alternative, ” he said in a statement on Monday (Jan 11).
"Whichever way it is viewed, the stakes are high in terms of the costs involved in money and in human lives," added Lee.
He also said that it is beneficial if a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis is done, adding that companies do this to find out what's working well for them.
“They ask themselves where they want to go, and what might get in their way. The question of making it compulsory or not raises a dilemma for governments given the fact that the overall effectiveness of the vaccine is dependent on a high percentage of people taking them, ” said Lee.
He added that to the best of his knowledge, no country has made Covid-19 vaccination compulsory by law.
“The World Health Organisation (WHO) has deemed it unnecessary to make it compulsory. Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has also hinted that in Malaysia it will not be made compulsory. That is welcome news, ” said Lee.
He added that vaccination should be left to individuals to decide, as it is a human rights issue.
Lee however added that such decisions bear consequences, as some countries may make it mandatory for incoming travellers to be vaccinated and deny entry to those who have not been.
"There have been some scary comments in social media of the possible adverse side-effects of the vaccine," he said.
Lee said that such concerns are legitimate, as people would not want to allow any food, drink, or other substances to enter their body if they are unsure of their effects.
He then said that all drugs will have side-effects or contain indications which are signs that one should not continue with a particular medicine or treatment because it is or might be harmful.
"So, we should not be overly concerned with taking another drug that could save countless lives.
"We already take several vaccinations that are compulsory. If we can take those without much fuss, we can also voluntarily take the Covid-19 vaccine without fuss," he said.
Lee added that in Singapore, it was confidence-building to see that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was the first to receive the vaccine.
"It is also laudable that Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has volunteered to be the first in Malaysia to be inoculated. After all, It is not only the right thing but also the wise thing to do. But at this stage we should not make it compulsory," Lee said.