KUALA LUMPUR, April 19 — Refugees and migrant workers will be included for vaccination in the third phase of the national inoculation drive, Science, Technology and Innovation minister, Khairy Jamaluddin said today.
In a joint press conference with Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba in Putrajaya, Khairy who leads the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NIP) said that the shots will be administered even for those who do not have legitimate documentations, or if they have expired.
“I had a meeting with the home affairs minister last week, to discuss the matter of refugees and migrant workers. For refugees, we will be working together with the Home Ministry for refugees who have registered.
“For refugees who carry the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) card, we will be working with the United Nations (UN) to vaccinate them. So that will take place during phase three,” he told reporters.
He said this will likely start in June when vaccine supply has increased.
Employers will be responsible for registering their migrant workers who are documented.
For migrant workers who do not have documents, we have also asked for their employers to register them and we will make the vaccines available to them regardless of whether they have documents or otherwise, or if their documents have lapsed,” he said.
Khairy was asked as to the time frame as to when the said groups would be receiving their vaccines, after previously promising to also include them in the NIP. He was also asked as to how the government is promoting the drive to them.
In February, he had pledged that the government will not detain undocumented migrants who come forward to receive their Covid-19 vaccines.
Khairy also said the government under the Covid-19 task force is also working with the Home Ministry to contact foreign embassies, international organisations, civil society and non-governmental organisations (NGO) to assist in assuring undocumented migrants of this.
During the press conference today, Khairy was also asked as to how the government was going to regain the trust of these often ostracised communities who fear for their safety, should they come out to be vaccinated.
He was also asked if the Covid-19 Vaccine Supply Access Guarantee Special Committee (JKJAV) will consider the suggestion by several NGOs for amnesty for the said groups from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
“I have discussed this at length with the Home Ministry. So the Home Ministry will be putting up a Cabinet memo for the Cabinet to decide on the policy for migrant workers as well as refugees,” he replied.
“But we have agreed that we will work together with the United Nations with the UNHCR to get refugees who hold the UNHCR card to be vaccinated, and I think one key step towards increasing confidence among these refugees is a demonstration effect.
“Once we start working together with NGOs as well as the UNHCR to vaccinate refugees and they themselves can see that they come forward to be vaccinated without facing any consequences, then word will spread and they will be more confident to come out to get vaccinated,” he added.
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