Vaccine: Fulfil federal target before states, says Khairy

He says Putrajaya has no objections to state govts procuring vaccines on their own, but the sources must not hinder federal govt’s own procurements

by AFIQ AZIZ / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

THE Selangor government’s move to allow companies to buy vaccines for their workforce to curb infections at the biggest source has hit a bottleneck because it competes with the federal government’s own procurement process.

Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said Selangor’s effort to procure vaccines for its corporations would have to be in line with the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NCIP).

Khairy, who heads the programme, said Putrajaya has no objections to state governments procuring vaccines on their own, but they have to get it from sources that won’t compete with the federal government’s own procurements.

He said the types of vaccines that state governments are trying to procure are from the same pharmaceutical companies supplying the NCIP.

Khairy said these companies have signed contracts to fulfil federal orders before they can supply states, industries, private hospitals and other parties.

“Based on the terms of agreements between the federal government of Malaysia and the relevant vaccine manufacturers, the supply of vaccine stocks ordered must and will be prioritised for the federal government for the administration of NCIP, before pharmaceutical companies can channel any vaccine supply to other parties, including state governments, industries or private hospitals that make orders and purchases after the federal government unless it is through a supplier that is not involved in NCIP,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Khairy’s statement has put Selangor’s programme to tamp surging infections in the state, which is largely contributed by industries, in a quandary.

Selangor announced yesterday that companies could book vaccines for their workers through the state government in an effort to curb infections at factories.

However, it is unclear whether Selangor has its own sources of vaccines with RM100 million allocated.

The federal government said only vaccines that are approved by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency can be used in the country. Only three vaccines have been approved by the agency — Pfizer-BioNTech, Sinovac and AstraZeneca-Oxford — and these are still sought by the federal government.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) said it is ur gent for Selangor to get more residents vaccinated and the state government’s effort would greatly help.

MEF president Datuk Dr Syed Hussain Syed Husman said the pandemic has disrupted operations in many companies and productivity is down.

“Since last year, the productivity of employees has been dropping.

“In the case of working from home, discipline matters arise, besides connection barriers like stable Internet connectivity. So, people must get back to work, hence, vaccines are important,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

Syed Hussain urged the state government to prioritise vaccinations for industries that require workers to be physically present such as manufacturing and construction, precisely the sectors that have been major contributors to the resurgence of Covid-19.

“Once you tackle these sectors, it should be easy to tackle others.”

Currently, more than one million people in Malaysia have been vaccinated, from a total of 10 million registered recipients, while Malaysia continues to register a high number of Covid-19 cases on a daily basis.

Malaysian Trades Union Congress deputy president Mohd Effendy Abdul Ghani said Selangor’s offer to companies is proactive, but not the best method.

“This puts vaccination on the ability of employers to pay for it. Large companies have the money, but small and medium enterprises may not be so lucky,” he told TMR.