PETALING JAYA: The Cabinet has agreed that the vaccination programme to begin at the end of this month will be given freely to non-citizens residing in Malaysia but Malaysians will remain the top priority, said the Special Committee on Ensuring Access to Covid-19 Vaccine Supply.
The government has also agreed in principle to provide free vaccination to undocumented foreign workers and the committee will look into how this can be implemented.
In a joint statement issued by the ministries of Health and Science, Technology and Innovation (Mosti) yesterday, the committee said this was decided by the ministers at a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday as it was not only the right thing to do but practical in the efforts to reach herd community.
Malaysian citizens, however, will be prioritised before foreigners residing in Malaysia are allowed access to the programme.
The statement also assured that there are more than enough doses of the vaccine for the programme and there is an urgent need for as many of the population of Malaysia to be vaccinated.
The committee said that this decision was taken after considering the existence of large clusters in certain economic sectors which included foreign workers.
It also said that providing access to the vaccine for all, including foreigners, is in line with the theme of “Protect Self, Protect All” of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme.
“The Cabinet agreed that the National Covid-19 Programme to begin at the end of this month will also include free vaccination for all communities of non-Malaysians residing in Malaysia and will take into account a few factors.
“A safe Covid-19 environment can only be achieved if most residents of Malaysia are vaccinated.
“Vaccination for all in a pandemic is humane and there are records of many cases in clusters which include foreign workers in the agricultural, construction and manufacturing sectors, ” it said.
“The treatment and quarantine costs involving those infected by the clusters of foreign workers is high.
“Foreign workers have become part of our community and contribute to the national economy.
“There have also been a few countries which have provided our citizens abroad with vaccines, ” the joint statement added.
Mosti Minister Khairy Jamaluddin further tweeted yesterday that “foreign citizens residing in Malaysia” who will receive free vaccination include diplomats, expatriates, students, foreign spouses and children, foreign workers and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees cardholders.
“In principle, Cabinet has also agreed to provide the vaccines free for undocumented foreigners.
“The Special Committee on Ensuring Access To Covid-19 Vaccine Supply will be discussing further on how this can be implemented. We will be reaching out to state governments, foreign embassies, NGOs to assist, ” tweeted Khairy.
Last Sept, the Human Resources Ministry stated that Malaysia currently hosts about 2.1 million documented foreign workers, which accounts for about 14% of the domestic labour force.
On Feb 2, the government stated that once the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine arrives, doses will be distributed in stages to the states within a week or two.
Malaysia was previously reported to have purchased 12.8 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and subsequently purchased an additional 12.2 million doses.