Covid-19: Shafie claims Sabah neglected as S'wak, S'gor prioritised in vaccine roll-out

KUALA LUMPUR: The worsening Covid-19 pandemic requires fairer vaccine distribution to each state, says Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal (Warisan-Semporna) who questioned why Sarawak and Selangor were prioritised ahead of Sabah.

Shafie said Sarawak has a population of 2.8 million and they were allocated 3.6 million doses of vaccines, while Selangor was allocated more than nine million doses despite having a population of 8.4 million.

"For Sarawak, that means they were allocated 129% more vaccines than their citizens while in Selangor, it's 107%," he said during his turn to raise points on the Science, Innovation and Technology Minister's briefing on the national vaccination programme at the special Parliament sitting on Wednesday (July 28).

"Sabah has 3.9 million residents and we were only given 1.8 million doses. That is less than 40%," he said.

Chan Foong Hin (PH-Kota Kinabalu) attempted to raise an additional question during Shafie's speech but was stopped by the Warisan president.

"For us, Warisan, we only have one day... I could not speak yesterday (July 27) because the Health Ministry's briefing was important."

Shafie then urged the government to ensure a more equitable vaccine distribution to every state to ensure that Sabah wasn't left out.

Meanwhile, Shafie said the government must take a different approach in vaccinating Sabahans, given that some of them lived traditionally in the islands, mountains and jungles, where Internet accessibility is non-existent.

Shafie proposed walk-in vaccinations for Sabahans, as some of them living in the interior do not possess smartphones.

"When they come for vaccination, test them for Covid-19. If they are positive, quarantine them for 14 days and vaccinate them after."

Shafie also said there must be more allocations to improve medical facilities in the rural heartlands of Sabah, as he cited the lack of ambulances and transportation as causes of locals being left out of the national immunisation program.

"We must reach out to them. Many of them are very vulnerable. For some of them, they might turn up for the first dose and not the second," he said.

Shafie proposed the government use single-dose vaccines in Sabah for residents living in the outskirts.

"I also hope that there will be more transparency in terms of the procurement of vaccines. It's important that this expenditure is made public," he added.

Unequitable vaccine distribution was also raised by Datuk Aziz Jamman (Warisan-Sepanggar) earlier in the House.

Azis said the latest data showed that only 618,000 Sabahans have received their first dose and only about 378,000 have been fully vaccinated, which means only 9.7% of their population have gotten their vaccination.

The ongoing five-day special sitting that began on July 26 will end on Monday (Aug 2).

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