New subcommittee will study early Covid-19 vaccination for non-medical frontliners, says Dr Adham

Yiswaree Palansamy
·3-min read
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba during a press conference in the presence of Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan at the Health Ministry March 3, 2021. — Bernama pic
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba during a press conference in the presence of Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan at the Health Ministry March 3, 2021. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, March 5 — A special panel under the Special Committee for Ensuring Access to Covid-19 Vaccine Supply (JKJAV) has been formed to assess requests from non-medical frontliners for early Covid-19 vaccination, Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba said.

In an interview with Malay Mail, the health minister said he has been inundated with such requests from those in the category who were exposed to increased risk of Covid-19 infections due to their public exposure.

He said public confidence after the first day of the vaccine rollout has been very good, with a “tremendous” number of applications coming to the Ministry of Health (MOH) from those in various sectors.

“For example lorry drivers who ferry food supply, tourism sector and airport staff such as pilots, air stewardesses and stewards, to be included in the first phase as frontliners.

“So the priority for them, we will try our very best when more vaccines come in the first phase. So JKJAV decided to form a special committee to place these cases to be evaluated and we will give our recommendation to the government.

Dr Adham said that the panel will look at the degree of exposure for the individual groups before deciding which vaccination phase they would be listed under, as there was now more movement due to economic activities continuing and interdistrict travel allowed again.

A nurse loads a syringe with a dose of the Pfizer-BioTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Penang General Hospital in George Town March 2, 2021. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
A nurse loads a syringe with a dose of the Pfizer-BioTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Penang General Hospital in George Town March 2, 2021. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

Malay Mail asked Dr Adham if his ministry would consider proposing to the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry (Mosti) that Malaysia emulate Singapore, Dubai and Qatar in vaccinating workers in transport, tourism, and logistics, among others, ahead of the general population.

On a related note, Dr Adham urged Malaysians not to demand specific vaccines from Malaysia’s portfolio, assuring that all vaccines approved by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) were safe and effective.

He added that the debates about the vaccine types were creating unnecessary anxiety and fuelling conspiracy theories that could undermine the government’s National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme.

“Our utmost priority is for the population to firstly receive a safe and efficacious vaccine. We have the NPRA to check on these three things; quality, efficacy and safety,” he said in an interview yesterday.

“Efficacy is the point they ask about. Vaccines have different percentages of efficacy. So it could be 90 per cent, based on two or three clinical trials. So all other vaccines which we bought, are truly safe quality wise. So stop the debates and arguments, as what our NPRA selected has already undergone a meticulous process,” he added.

Dr Adham said that the government would vaccinate the country using whichever approved vaccines were in stock locally at the time.

The government has already confirmed the Pfizer-Biontech, AstraZeneca, Sinovac, CanSinoBIO, and Sputnik V vaccines for local use but said more could be added to the portfolio.

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