PETALING JAYA: Community leaders have a role to play in encouraging Malaysians to register for the Covid-19 vaccine, says the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA).
Its president Datuk Dr M. Subramaniam said the association was concerned over how slow Malaysians are registering for the vaccine, and the sluggish progress which could result in the country not meeting its target of inoculating 80% of the population in time.
“At the rate we are going, we may not reach the target of vaccinating 80% of the population even by the first quarter of 2022.
“We should aim to complete inoculating the population as early as possible and by this year, ” he said in a statement on Saturday (March 13).
He said leaders such as those of religious groups, business communities, professional associations as well as village heads and even social influencers have a role to play in increasing registrations for the vaccine and should do their part to encourage their communities or network to register early.
While the hesitation could stem from doubts on the vaccine’s efficacy and safety, Dr Subramaniam said there is sufficient evidence to show that the vaccines are safe.
“Before any vaccine is approved for use in the country, it has to go through stringent checks by our National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) with the highest priority given to efficacy and safety.
“Only with the NPRA's approval can the vaccines be brought in for use, ” he said, adding that any side effects from the vaccine is known to be mild and serious side-effects are rare.
He also encouraged older people and those with comorbidities to register now as vaccination for these groups is expected to begin in April under the second phase of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme.
He said those with allergies to any component of the vaccine should avoid it but reassured that there may be other safer vaccine options for them.
Dr Subramaniam said the world has waited for over a year for a solution to the pandemic and urges the public to register as quickly as possible as getting vaccinated will also protect the unvaccinated.
“The benefits far outweigh the risks therefore people should not hesitate to register and get their loved ones registered as well, ” he said.
He said the sooner the population is inoculated, the sooner the country can recover from the impact of the pandemic as businesses will be able to operate confidently without disruptions.
“Several countries are also in talks on allowing international travel for vaccinated travellers.
“Those who need to travel or enjoy travelling should get themselves ready now by registering for the jab, ” he said.
As of Saturday, the Special Committee on Ensuring Access to Covid-19 Vaccine Supply (JKJAV) reported that about 22% or 5,355,970 of those eligible for the vaccine have registered for it.