LIKE other right-thinking Malaysians, I am dismayed and appalled by the recent string of reports on fake vaccination certificates being sold by unscrupulous individuals in private clinics. I’ve read that 5,600 people in Selangor and another 1,900 in Terengganu have allegedly bought these fake certificates, but the number could be higher.
Then it was reported that a private clinic in Gombak certified by the Health Ministry to administer Covid-19 vaccines allegedly threw away the vaccines and returned the empty vials to the ministry as proof that the shots had been administered. To make things worse, the clinic also issued legitimate digital vaccination certificates to people who did not get the jabs.
This is totally unacceptable, especially when marginalised communities in Malaysia and others in many parts of the world are struggling to gain access to these life-saving vaccines!
The crux of the matter is poor understanding of public health and healthcare strategies that are devised to protect the population from greater harm. Globally, vaccinations have been known to be the most cost-effective public health intervention method and second only to the provision of clean water.
Vaccines don’t just protect the vaccinated person but also the rest of the population who cannot be vaccinated, forming what is known as “herd immunity”. These include babies and young children, people who are allergic to vaccine components and those who are immunocompromised. Simply put, those who can be vaccinated are actually the privileged ones.
Imagine the anxiety of those with young children and babies or a spouse undergoing cancer treatment who cannot be vaccinated. Vulnerable groups like them are at highest risk of poor prognosis against any infection, particularly during a pandemic like Covid-19.
Most Malaysians are unaware of the fact that every drug and vaccine brought into this country undergoes a stringent evaluation process conducted by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) before it is approved for use.
The evaluation takes into consideration manufacturing data, pre-clinical data and clinical trial data from Phase 1 (safety), Phase 2 (immunogenicity and safety), Phase 3 (efficacy and safety), and also regulatory status from other reference countries before approval.
As a clinical trial volunteer for one of the Covid-19 vaccines early last year, I can attest to the stringent procedures and processes before the actual rollout of the vaccine. Along with some 3,000 other volunteers, I was subjected to a series of blood tests and injections followed by extensive questioning and monitoring in that double-blind study to ensure safety and efficacy of the vaccine before it could be released into the market.
Those who do not want the vaccines should not waste them. One dose thrown away could have saved the life of another person who wanted it.
The government and Malaysians have invested heavily in the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK) to bring the pandemic under control. Faking your vaccination is therefore the greatest betrayal you can commit to your country and countrymen in these trying times.
CHAN LI JIN
Pharmaceutical Association of Malaysia