Private hospitals aim to start vaccinations by mid-year

The move is to complement govt’s effort so that more people are able to get vaccinated quickly


PRIVATE hospitals are looking to procure the Covid-19 vaccine as soon as possible and roll out their vaccination programme by June or July this year.

The Association of Private Hospitals Malaysia president Datuk Dr Kuljit Singh said the aim of private hospitals was not to undermine the government’s efforts but instead to complement the process so that more people are able to get vaccinated quickly, especially economic frontliners.

“We need to start now in making our orders to the manufacturers, so that in the next few months, the vaccine can be made available.

“We hope the government can work with us on this as the groups of frontliners play a pivotal role in restarting the economy,” he said at The Vaccine Equity and Equality: Time to Get All of Malaysia Involved panel discussion in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Earlier this week, the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme Coordinating Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar gave private hospitals the green light to directly contact suppliers of the vaccine.

However, Dr Kuljit said the need for the government to lead and streamline efforts for the procurement of vaccines is important because some manufacturers preferred to deal with governments directly.

“We will not disrupt the quota of vaccines that the government already purchased, which means it will be different vaccines that we will look to procure, provided it is registered with the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency.

“We are trying to procure vaccines where there is a lesser cold chain, like Pfizer, which requires storage at -70°C.

“This can be complicated for private hospitals and biotechnical labs, so we will find vaccines that can be kept maybe between 2°C and 8°C,” he said.

He added the government and private sector must work together on resource optimisation so there is no clash.

“This is why we want involvement. Maybe we are facing a global shortage, but we anticipate many countries and suppliers coming out with vaccines by the middle of the year so we want to start moving now,” Dr Kuljit said.

He added that private hospitals agreed to have a ceiling price set by the government, as most corporates were happy to pay.

“The only thing is, private hospitals may need a minimum cost for processes, which is not much of an issue.

“If we look at the big corporates that are losing millions a day due to the lockdown, I think most of them just want to get vaccinated as soon as possible and reignite businesses,” he said.

Dr Kuljit said Phase 2 of the vaccination programme is slated to start on April 19, 2021, as Phase 1 was completed for healthcare frontliners and those eligible within the category.

He said private hospitals will work with the MySejahtera app, as it is the main form of registration and updates.

“Whether you get vaccinated in a government or private hospital, it will automatically remove your name from the public listing to where you are registered.

“This will allow others to move up the list and get vaccinated earlier,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mydin Mohamed Holdings Bhd MD Datuk Dr Ameer Ali Mydin said getting everyone vaccinated as quickly as possible is the priority.

“Economic frontliners refer to everyone across all industries. It is the national agenda for people to remain safe, whether the procurement of vaccines come from the government or private hospitals.

“Let the private sector do what they are good at. If we depend solely on government hospitals, the issue is the time frame and businesses will be at risk of getting left behind.

“In businesses, those between the ages of 40 and 50 years old are the ones running around, signing business deals and procuring goods overseas,” Ameer Ali said.