Covid-19 vaccination at full throttle

More than 50 malls interested in becoming PPVs nationwide by end-June to help speed up vaccination and achieve herd immunity

by NUR HANANI AZMAN / pic by HUSSEIN SHAHARUDDIN

ALMOST all economic sectors are geared up to roll out their vaccination programmes to expedite the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NCIP).

The Malaysia Shopping Malls Association (MSMA) said it has received inquiries from more than 50 malls interested in hosting vaccination centres (PPVs) nationwide where some, recognising the urgency to achieve herd immunity, have closed registrations for interested tenants and business partners.

“Shopping malls, together with all retail tenants’ staff, are effectively frontliners and we feel that it is imperative for the vaccination exercise to be implemented expeditiously.

“When vaccinated, our frontliners will not only protect themselves but more importantly, duly protect the shoppers and the public,” it said in a statement yesterday, adding that the rollout is expected to take place by the end of this month as scheduled.

Earlier, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Alexander Nanta Linggi said about 500,000 retail workers, as economic frontliners, will be vaccinated this month.

He said his ministry will work with the Complex Management Association of Malaysia, Malaysia Retailers Association and the Malaysia Retail Chain Association to set up vaccination centres at strategic locations nationwide.

The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) recently reported that there had been concerns over profiteering on vaccine fees for mall workers.

The MSMA said while vaccines are being provided free-of-charge by the government, the malls participating as vaccination centres are paying for the doctors, nurses and medical officer fees to ProtectHealth Corp Sdn Bhd and all other antecedent costs.

“Our members estimated that the cost of providing the venue, logistics, manpower and standby ambulance service for the on-site vaccination centres will amount to RM100 to RM150 per pax depending on volume and total number of doses available each day, the total population to be vaccinated and the duration to complete all the doses,” it said.

The MSMA said in the interests of the national agenda, it was decided that the malls shall largely subsidise these costs and be allowed to charge RM20 per pax for two doses to partially defray their expenses and as a commitment by the registrant so as to avoid absenteeism.

“As the doctors and nurses will charge RM15 to administer one dose, equalling RM30 for two doses, a total of RM50 for both doses will be charged to participants, principally only our shopping frontliners,” it said.

Suria KLCC, Publika Shopping Gallery and Aeon Co (M) Bhd are among participating shopping malls that have sent out memos to their tenants and business partners of their participation in NCIP.

Echoing the association’s statement, these malls will be charging a nominal fee of RM50 per person for two doses of the vaccines.

Similarly, media organisations have also submitted the details of their staff for vaccination.

This came after many parties called for the government to prioritise media practitioners, who are newsgathering frontliners, in the NCIP. They are also expected to get inoculated this month.

TMR recently reported that Pharmaniaga Bhd is on track to supply seven million doses of Sinovac vaccine to state governments, government-linked companies (GLCs), and the private sector.

Of the total, four million doses have been requested by GLCs and private companies, while three million doses are for state governments with high numbers of Covid-19 cases.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba said when ready, these doses can be delivered immediately.

“We believe it can accelerate herd immunity in the areas that record high numbers of Covid-19 cases almost daily,” he said.

Other efforts to speed up the vaccination process include the 30 mobile vaccination trucks that will be activated in People’s Housing Project areas and construction sites in the federal capital. Each mobile truck is capable of administering 100 doses.

Meanwhile, private hospitals are also ready to administer the Covid-19 vaccines in Phase 2 of the NCIP, which covers senior citizens, people with chronic diseases and people with disabilities.

However, Association of Private Hospitals Malaysia president Datuk Dr Kuljit Singh reminded the public that this is not an opportunity for them to select the private hospital of their choice and register for the vaccine.

“The procedure and process remain the same as registration is still through MySejahtera and only those entitled to be vaccinated in Phase 2 will be eligible without an option to pick their hospital or type of vaccine.

“Private hospitals are just one of the vaccination centres together with the other public hospitals or community centres,” he told TMR.

Phase 2 of the NCIP is scheduled to complete in August, where vaccines are expected to be administered to 9.4 million people comprising the elderly, the chronically ill and people with disabilities.

This group will be prioritised to receive either the Pfizer or Sinovac vaccines.

Currently, 12 private hospitals have been selected to assist the government with NCIP and more are expected to come on board with over 100 private hospitals nationwide registered with ProtectHealth for the programme.

“The vaccination at private hospitals is free of charge as the cost will be paid by the government, while the excess cost will be absorbed by the private hospitals.

“This is a social responsibility that the private hospitals are offering to the public to quickly achieve herd immunity,” he added.

Dr Kuljit also hoped that people would not rush to private hospitals looking for an opportunity to be vaccinated earlier.

He said all private hospitals participating in this programme will adhere to the guidelines of the Special Committee for Ensuring Access to Covid 19 Vaccine Supply including the methodology of the inoculation on the extra vaccines in each centre, if any.

“We were informed by Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar that there will be enough vaccines for more than 80% of the population by the end of the year, though the supply is slow at the moment,” he said.

“The vaccination at private hospitals is free of charge as the cost will be paid by the government, while the excess cost will be absorbed by the private hospitals.

“This is a social responsibility that the private hospitals are offering to the public to quickly achieve herd immunity.”