State initiative a much-needed option, say business groups

This way, please: A volunteer ushering people arriving for their ­Covid-19 screening at the MBSJ Sport arena in USJ 1, Subang Jaya. — AZHAR MAHFOF/The Star

PETALING JAYA: The Selangor Covid-19 Vaccination Programme (SCVP), which gives companies paid priority access to vaccines, is a much-needed option for the business community, especially for those who need prompt vaccination for their staff, say business groups.

Businesses that could afford to foot the bill – possibly costing RM350 for two doses of the Sinovac vaccine per person – now have an inroad into securing faster vaccination for their workers under the SCVP, which is now open for registration.

Federation of Malaysian Business Associations (FMBA) vice-chairman Datuk Dr AT Kumararajah said enabling business owners to fast-track workers’ vaccination would not only help create a safer workplace environment but also open up new avenues such as the possibility of business travel.

“Companies can choose whether to enrol in this programme or go for the Public-Private Partnership Covid-19 Industry Immunisation Programme (Pikas), in which the cost per employee is RM90 for two doses of the vaccine.

“The government is not forcing anyone to go for the programmes but having these options is necessary, especially for businesses with an urgency.

“It is just a matter of deciding what is faster, easier, most affordable and what employers are able to do. Those who need to get it done faster now have options to do so,” he said.

He added that private healthcare facilities were due to pick up on offering paid vaccination to the public soon as well, offering a fast-track option for the general population who do not wish to wait for their turn in the free-of-charge National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme.

“This is a supply and demand story. All of these are towards vaccinating the population quickly,” he said.

Earlier in the year when the immunisation drive started, the government did not offer the option of paid vaccination programmes as they wanted to curtail the cannibalisation of vaccine supply, said Dr Kumararajah.

Malay Chamber of Commerce Malaysia chairman of the Selangor chapter Mohd Azli Md Yusof suggested the state government to allocate part of the money collected from employers for the programme to a fund to help struggling businesses.

He said that while they welcomed the move to ensure a higher percentage of the Selangor population and business community was vaccinated, the cost for the programme might be too steep for many employers.

“It would give the impression that companies with a lot of money will get faster vaccination for their employees while smaller companies which can’t afford to pay will be left behind.

“If the state government wants to impose a charge of RM350, we would suggest that they put part of the money into a fund to help less fortunate business owners,” he added.

Malaysian Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Datuk N. Gobalakrishnan also welcomed the programme as a good move to help reach out to protect workers against Covid-19, but expressed his concern over the cost.SME Association of Malaysia president Datuk Michael Kang said any vaccination programme was welcomed as the goal was to speed up the drive to immunise as many members of the population as soon as possible.

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