PETALING JAYA: The government’s initiative to allow economic frontliners and those in Phase Three to be vaccinated earlier than expected is welcomed by health experts as well as consumer and business groups.
Malaysian Medical Association president Prof Datuk Dr Subramaniam Muniandy said it was fair to allow those who were in Phase Three to be bumped up as long as all efforts had been made to register the elderly.
“The aim of the country is to vaccinate 80% of our population by next year and we must reach that target, ” he said.
Dr Subramaniam noted that the vaccinations should be carried out faster and be conducted in more areas nationwide.
Malaysian Public Health Physicians Association president Datuk Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar concurs.
“Factory workers as well as teachers should be vaccinated, ” he said.
Malaysia’s Covid-19 vaccination programme started on Feb 24. Frontliners were the first to be vaccinated.
The second phase of the vaccination programme is to immunise those in the high-risk groups and those aged 60 and above, while the rest of the population aged 18 years and above will be vaccinated in the third phase, which will be from May to February 2022.
Since economic frontliners are among the groups who would be able to get the vaccine earlier, Malaysia Retail Association vice-president Datuk Ameer Ali Mydin said the government’s decision was the “most practical thing to do”.
However, he questioned if there were enough efforts to ensure that the elderly have been given sufficient help to register for the vaccine. “If there were, I agree we should move on and get whoever that can be vaccinated to get the vaccine.”
Ameer Ali also urged the government to open up the vaccination process to the private sector, noting that they could help drive their own initiative to get more people vaccinated.
“From the retail community, our concern is that in the next two to three months many countries will be opening up and allowing those who have been vaccinated to travel, ” he said.
“But, we fear that our retail businessman will be left behind because there is no assurance that the younger people, who are currently entrepreneurs, will be vaccinated in time, ” he added.
As such, Ameer Ali said they should be allowed to purchase the vaccine in the private market to enable them to be vaccinated much quicker.
Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca) president Datuk Dr Marimuthu Nadason agrees.
“We need to move fast. We cannot wait until 2022. We just need to finish this in a couple of months, just go all out for it.
“We have people who are impatient as lives are in jeopardy. People already cannot go out, cannot meet friends, cannot see their grandchildren, cannot attend funerals and many more. How long more do you want to put us in a cage?” he asked.
Malaysia E-Hailing Drivers Association president Daryl Chong also lauded the government’s move.
“All this while the drivers have been driving around in fear. But, with the vaccine available to them now, they will be able to carry out their task without having to worry too much, ” he said.