JOHOR BARU: Two former state executive councillors here are calling for the Federal Government to beef up the Covid-19 vaccination programme in view of the recent high number of infections
Johor Mentri Besar adviser Datuk Tee Siew Kiong, a former state tourism, domestic trade and consumerism committee chairman, said while the government was about a month into phase two of the vaccination programme, the spike in Covid-19 cases had worsened the situation in the country.
He said the government should adopt a more flexible and multi-pronged approach to achieve herd immunity by allowing the private sector, non-governmental organisations (NGO) and charity bodies to contribute to the effort.
“At this juncture, the government should look into the public-private partnership model to allow state governments to work with private companies to carry out their corporate social responsibilities.
“This includes allowing the companies to pay for the vaccination of their employees and their families as well as sharing resources to acquire vaccines at a competitive price to ensure a stable supply of vaccines.
“Johor has many industrial and commercial areas with a large number of employees and foreign workers. With these steps, I believe we can greatly reduce the number of infections in the workplace and industrial sectors,” said Tee, who is also the Pontian MCA division chief.
He suggested for the government to allow private companies to fund private hospitals and clinics, which comply with the Health Ministry’s standards, to facilitate and speed up the vaccination programme.
He believes that charities and non-government organisations can play an important role by providing volunteers to assist in the vaccination programme, other than allowing retired healthcare workers to return to the field and assist.
“Western countries that have successfully administered vaccination to their population in large volumes have shown positive signs with the relaxing of safety measures and restoration of their economy.
“Our neighbouring Singapore has also tweaked its vaccination strategy to protect more residents faster by extending the gap between the first and second dose to six to eight weeks instead of three to four weeks.
“With the limited supply of vaccines, this practice is worth a reference by our government to allow more people to at least receive their first dose of vaccination,” he said.
Meanwhile, Semerah assemblyman and former Johor health, culture and heritage committee chairman Mohd Khuzzan Abu Bakar said the state government should immediately conduct a mass-testing programme for free to all Johoreans and residents.
As of May 18, Johor recorded a rate of Covid-19 transmission of 1.11, which was higher compared to the national rate of 1.08, he said.
He added that as of May 17, the number of people who have been vaccinated in Johor was not even 10%, which exposes the masses to the possibility of contracting the virus.
“Only 104,263 or 8.49% have received their first dose of vaccine while 70,488 or 5.74% have received both doses, which shows the slow vaccination progress when compared to the some 1.22 million people who have registered for the vaccination.
“I call on all relevant parties, including the government and the Opposition to sit down together and come up with an immediate solution to fight the national crisis,” he said.