Travel restrictions to be eased once herd immunity is achieved: Health DG

by HARIZAH KAMEL/ FILE PIX
 
HEALTH DG Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said there is a possibility to ease  the Movement Control Order (MCO) restrictions such as interstate travel once herd immunity is achieved. 
 
“From our analysis, we intend to achieve at least 70% to 80% of our population to be vaccinated and once achieved herd immunity, we can ease the restrictions and compliance to the standard operating procedures (SOPs). I think this is a fine adjustment that we will make. 
 
“Our discussions have begun to look at passport immunity whether we can cross states and countries and we will look at those who have been vaccinated and whether we should carry out quarantine,” he said in a virtual media briefing yesterday. 
 
He emphasised that the ministry needs more data to consider granting flexibility on the SOPS and will continue to implement adherence to the SOPs and encourage vaccination to the people. 
 
“Even in the West, no country has achieved herd immunity yet so give us around six to nine months to collect and analyse more data. We also follow the guidance of the World Health Organisation as well as looking at all the member states under WHO for data,” he said. 
 
In order to know if herd immunity has been achieved, Dr Noor Hisham explained that the ministry will look into the number of those who have been vaccinated and conduct a surveillance study to the community on whether the antibody is still present after inoculation.  
 
Disease Control Division senior principal assistant director Dr Maheshwara Rao A/L Appannan said the ministry’s data is now well maintained as all are using the MySejahtera app, adding that the app will release a new version soon with the function “add dependent”. 
 
He also revealed that they received almost 300,000 vaccine registrations a day with total registrations amounting to 1.065 million people to date. 
 
Taking into account on the recent data of those who chose not to get vaccinated, Health deputy DG Datuk Dr Chong Chee Kheong said the ministry is targeting at least 23.6 million Malaysians to get the vaccine by February 2022. 
 
He said the worrying part about the vaccination of course is the adverse effects. Although more than 99% will develop mild to moderate effects, there will be chances of severe reaction.  
 
“Being prepared for that severe reaction no matter how small is the task of the vaccine centres. I’m glad to say that all the vaccination centres  have been informed of this and have put together the necessary equipment to prevent or anticipate such possibility for the severe reaction,” he said. 
 
He pointed out that from the testimonial of the Health DG and the Prime Minister, the side effects are quite mild and tolerable. 
 
Any information or complaints regarding the adverse effects can be channeled to the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) through its website or through MySejahtera.