PORT KLANG: Over 50,000 members of the transportation industry will be inoculated against Covid-19 as part of the government’s Transportation Sector Vaccination Programme, which started with the maritime industry here yesterday.
Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong, who visited the vaccination centre for seafarers and port workers at the Port Klang Authority Sports and Recreation Club here with National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme coordinating minister Khairy Jamaluddin, said the exercise was timely and much needed.
“Seafarers, who are the backbone of the shipping sector, should be given priority as the movement of goods and supplies for the country depends on a sustainable shipping and port sector,” Dr Wee told a press conference after his visit.
The launch of the vaccination programme for the maritime sector yesterday was held in conjunction with Day of the Seafarers, which falls on June 25.
Based on the capacity of the venue, 10,000 maritime industry workers are expected to be vaccinated over a span of 10 days.
Dr Wee pointed out this was the second sector to be vaccinated after the manufacturing sector programme launched by International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali and Khairy recently.
“While manufacturing is an essential service, the transportation sector is something that we cannot leave behind.
“Since the first movement control order last year, our ports have never been closed, our public transport has never taken a rest and it is the same with airports. Even though flights decreased, they (airports) were open 24 hours,’’ said Dr Wee.
This is indicative, he added, of how important the transportation sector is and how much attention it should be given.
As such, Dr Wee said his ministry had launched the exercise in collaboration with the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry as well as Health Ministry.
“The Ministry of Transport received approval from the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) on June 21 to implement the vaccination programme for more than 51,500 frontliners in the transport sector, namely seafarers, port workers, airport personnel, and those in land and rail transport services,” he said.
Transportation companies involved in the programme will collectively set up the vaccination centres while the vaccine supply will be provided free of charge by the government, he added.
As for the maritime industry workers’ vaccination exercise, Dr Wee said the Port Klang Authority would take on the task of supervising port workers while the seafarers would be overseen by the Central Mercantile Marine Fund through the Marine Department of Malaysia.
“This vaccination exercise will benefit 18,596 or 53% of supervisors and port workers in the central region who are eligible to get vaccinated in this first phase,’’ he noted.
Vaccination centres will also be opened up for maritime industry workers in ports located in Penang, Kuantan, Johor, Sabah and Sarawak.
There are 59,155 supervisors and port workers in the country.
According to Dr Wee, vaccination for aviation sector workers will be carried out on July 5 while land transport sector workers are also scheduled to be vaccinated soon.
He said the vaccination exercise for aviation sector workers would encompass 22,243 airport workers, airline staff and cargo workers including air traffic controllers.
“For the land transport sector that involves public land transport, a few PPV will also be opened at several locations throughout the country to ensure that 19,259 rail attendants and bus drivers are vaccinated soon,’’ said Dr Wee.
He added that the Transport Ministry and CITF were also coordinating the vaccination programme for an estimated 355,064 taxi and e-hailing drivers, as well as bus drivers and p-hailing riders.
“This programme will be implemented under public PPV and the government will fully bear the costs,” he said.
He added that the number of taxi, e-hailing and bus drivers as well as p-hailing riders outnumbered that of other land transport sector staff and required a multi-pronged approach for vaccination to be carried out.
Dr Wee also clarified that the eligibility of recipients in the transportation sector was determined by the Health Ministry and took into consideration various factors including pregnancies or other medical conditions.