PETALING JAYA: Schools can be used as vaccination centres for students to help ramp up the country’s vaccination drive and achieve the targets laid out in the National Recovery Plan (NRP), says Datuk Dr Radzi Jidin.
The Education Minister said if schools were needed to administer vaccines for students, the ministry would facilitate the plan.
This, however, is subject to the National Security Council’s decision as to when students will be vaccinated.
He said the ministry had requested the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) to prioritise vaccinating exam year students, specifically the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) and Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) students, and teachers.
“The Covid-19 Vaccine Supply Access Guarantee (JKJAV) will look into this and on our side, we are ready to help.
“What is important is that we carry out the vaccination drive for our students, ” he said in a virtual press conference yesterday.
Radzi said they had requested for exam year students to be prioritised so they could return to schools before its expected reopening in the Phase Three of the NRP.
“If possible, the ministry wants all teachers and students to be vaccinated as soon as possible but due to the issue of supply, we requested for the two important exam year cohorts, SPM and STPM, to be vaccinated first.
“This is to allow their process of learning to run smoothly.
“Schools are expected to reopen between September and October, subject to the NRP thresholds, but we hope that our request will be considered to allow exam year students, if the situation at the time permits, to return earlier,” he added.
Radzi said he had discussed with National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme coordinating minister Khairy Jamaluddin on giving priority to the exam year students after it was announced that the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency had approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for those above the age of 12.
“However, there are many factors that need to be considered before making a decision (for other students).
“The main challenge of the national vaccine drive is the supply of vaccines where everyone must be realistic about the constraints the JKJAV is facing.
“If JKJAV says other students can be vaccinated after the exam year students had theirs, the ministry would, by then, know how to run the process, ” he said.
Radzi added that it was important for the ministry to understand the flow of the process and view it from a realistic perspective.
“The vaccination rollout for Form Five students is being looked into by JKJAV, so I do not want to jump the gun.
“We will help with the vaccination programme once a decision is made on how the process should roll out, ” he said, adding that the pace of the rollout would depend on the vaccine supply.
Radzi also said to date, 148, 580 teachers had been vaccinated with at least one dose.
“Teachers have been given priority in the second phase and, as a result, 36% of them have been vaccinated. This is an ongoing process, ” he said.
Radzi added that vaccinating students and teachers did not change the ministry’s earlier decision to cancel the PT3 examination.
On the reopening of schools, he said the ministry had several approaches and strategies to improve on their standard operating procedure.
“The situation is very dynamic, so even though we have these plans in the pipeline, there is still time (to improve the SOP) before schools reopen.
“We do not know what the situation will be like by that time, ” he said, adding that the current SOP had helped in preventing the spread of the Covid-19 virus in schools.