Walk-in Covid-19 vaccination for stateless persons not automatic, clarifies Sarawak deputy chief minister

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A healthcare worker administers a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to a frontliner at the UiTM Private Specialist Centre in Sungai Buloh March 2, 2021. ― Picture by Hari Anggara
A healthcare worker administers a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to a frontliner at the UiTM Private Specialist Centre in Sungai Buloh March 2, 2021. ― Picture by Hari Anggara

KUCHING, June 20 — Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri James Masing clarified today that the “jab first, register later” approach adopted by Sarawak in its Covid-19 vaccination programme is applicable only to Malaysian citizens in rural or semi-urban areas where the MySejahtera app cannot be used or where internet line is poor.

He said this approach does not automatically apply to stateless persons in Sarawak without first verifying their status from the Resident’s Offices, District Offices, elected representatives or community leaders.

“In areas close to the Sarawak-Kalimantan border, vaccination will only be given to those without proper documents after their status have been scrutinised,” he said in a statement when clarifying a statement issued by the Sarawak Dayak Iban Association’s (Sadia) Rajang branch chairman Bill Jugah yesterday.

Masing, who is also the state border security committee chairman, said the scrutiny is necessary because the government understands that there are those who are born in Sarawak but still are without proper documentation.

“We do not want to deny them of the required vaccination,” he stressed.

“If care is not taken on the “jab first, register later” approach, we may have an influx of non-Malaysians, from across the border who will just walk in through illegal routes to get Covid-19 jabs.

“That will be disastrous to our resources,” he said.

Masing urged Sadia Rajang branch and other non-governmental organisations to get their facts correct before making assumptions that stateless persons would be automatically vaccinated when they walk in at the vaccination centres without prior appointment.

The branch chairman Bill Jugah, in a statement carried by news portal Dayak Daily yesterday, had said he was relieved that its call to push the Covid-19 vaccinations for stateless people to receive the vaccine has been heard.

He had said he was informed that the state government had taken note that a number of stateless persons who could not register for vaccine due to the requirement of documents, had been vaccinated.

He commended the ‘inject first, register later’ approach to allow even stateless people to be vaccinated against Covid-19 since they did not meet the requirements to access the MySejahtera app.

“With this automatic process, the stateless people in areas like rural Kapit could now just walk to the mobile vaccination centre where an outreach team has been assigned to get their vaccination,” Jugah was quoted as saying by the news portal.

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