KUALA LUMPUR: The Selangor state government has made an initial booking of 2.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to be sold to employers looking to hasten vaccination for their employees.
State Public Health, Unity, Women and Family Development Committee chairman Siti Mariah Mahmud in a press conference on Wednesday (May 19) said though the state government encouraged people to get the free vaccines provided by the federal government, many industry players had approached the state government stating that they could not wait.
READ: Malaysia reports record 6,075 new cases amid COVID-19 third wave
She explained that to date, only 3.3 per cent of the state population has been vaccinated and added that it was too slow for a state that contributed 20 per cent to the national gross domestic product (GDP).
“We started with wanting to purchase 2.5 million doses, but we are willing to purchase more based on need. Besides the factories, high-risk communities such as the disabled, the marginalised and the elderly will be prioritised to get the vaccine.
“However, only once the suppliers have fulfilled their agreement with the federal government and supplied what has been ordered, will they entertain us at the state level. We have already reached the final stages and by next week the Mentri Besar (Chief Minister Amirudin Shahri) will make an announcement,” she said.
A medical worker collects a swab sample from a woman during coronavirus testing in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021. Malaysian authorities imposed tighter restrictions on movement to try to halt the spread of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
Dr Siti Mariah said that almost 1 million employees have registered on the Selangkah app for the vaccination programme known as SelangkahVax and added that 3,500 employers have registered their interest in the programme.
“Therefore we have mandated Selgate (Corporation) to fund and manage the transaction while the state government will provide half of the funding,” she said.
Asked on why employers would opt to pay for vaccines which would otherwise be free, the exco member said the cost incurred from closing down their entire business and testing all the employees should anyone be infected, far superseded the cost of buying vaccines for them.
“Priority for the sale of the vaccines will be factories and big business, but we will also do what we can to help small businesses,” she said.
She added that the SelangkahVax programme should roll out starting June and urged the federal government to streamline information on vaccine registration on MySejahtera and Selangkah to avoid overlapping registration and wastage of vaccines.
On getting the approval of the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA), Mdm Siti Mariah said it was not necessary.
“To date the NPRA has approved the three vaccines which are Pfizer Biontech, AstraZaneca and Sinovac and we are getting one of those three vaccines only.
“So we don’t need to get permission again because it is already approved by them (NPRA),” she said.
Read: Malaysia mulls shutdown of Selangor state amid COVID-19 surge
Malaysia’s national vaccination programme began on Feb 24 and the government had targeted to inoculate 80 per cent of its 32 million people by February next year.
On Tuesday, Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said in a statement that states were allowed to procure their own vaccines, but the federal government’s order would be prioritised if they are buying from the same pharmaceutical companies.
He said based on the agreement between the Malaysian federal government and related vaccine manufacturers, priority has to be given to Putrajaya for the national immunisation programme, before the supply can be channelled to other parties, including state governments, industries or private hospitals.
SELANGOR GOVERNMENT NOT KEEN ON FULL LOCKDOWN
On Wednesday, Malaysia reported a record high of 6,075 new cases since the pandemic, with Selangor topping the chart at 2,251.
Health Minister Adham Baba had said on Monday that the ministry was considering imposing a full-scale movement control order (MCO) in the state.
On this, Dr Siti Mariah stressed that the state government was not keen on a full lockdown for the state but added that they would comply if the federal government ordered for it to be carried out.
“If there is a choice, we do not want a full lockdown. We are already in MCO anyway. But should the government under the Emergency Ordinance call for a statewide lockdown, we will comply.
“However, there is no point if the lockdown is done without additional measures. Otherwise when the lockdown is lifted, cases will go up again just like MCO 1.0,” she said.
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