MoH mulls national testing policy for anti-vaxxers

Minister says those who refused to vaccinate will have to adhere to a certain testing schedule and regime

by HARIZAH KAMEL / pic by BERNAMA

THE Ministry of Health (MoH) is likely to come up with a national testing policy to take into account individuals refusing Covid-19 vaccines, its Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar (picture; right) said.

“In the event that there are still people who voluntarily refuse to be vaccinated and the government is not mandating vaccination, one of the things that we are considering is a national testing strategy.

“Once the pandemic turns into an endemic, whether you have been vaccinated or not, you need to get tested regularly which is why we want to make testing more affordable and accessible,” he said in a press conference in Putrajaya yesterday.

Khairy said those who refused to vaccinate will have to adhere to a certain testing schedule and regime.

“By the end of October, we will reach an endemic phase where we will have to live with the virus.

“We are already living with it, but some states are still in mitigation or late containment,” he said.

Khairy added that his ministry is waiting to execute vaccination for adolescents as they are prioritising vaccinating adults first.

On pediatric vaccinations for those under the age of 12, he said there is yet to be approval in Malaysia or anywhere else.

“Once there is enough data to support that it is safe to vaccinate children, then we would take it to the International Trade and Industry Ministry for consideration.”

In Khairy’s recent negotiations with Pfizer Inc, the latter said it could possibly come out with a specific vaccine that will be used for children with different dosage levels than that of adults and adolescents.

“We are still negotiating and trying to get the requisite clinical data from Pfizer to see that the vaccine is safe and efficacious. For now, we have not yet decided to give vaccines to children.”

Khairy assured parents that the MoH is doing its best to ensure that teachers and school staff (clerical, janitorial, security, canteen, as well as bus drivers) are vaccinated.

According to the latest figures, out of 412,000 teachers in Malaysia, 96.5% have received the first dose and 83.5% have completed two doses, while 84.8% support workers have received one dose and 68.8% have completed two doses.

“We are trying to make schools as safe as possible for children,” he pressed.

On the subject of booster shots, Khairy said there is an expert working committee that has been set up to provide recommendations for the booster shots.

“We hope to have recommendations by the end of this month for us to announce what the policy would be.

“For now, we are quite satisfied with the existing National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme. The priority now is to provide vaccinations for those who have not been vaccinated.”

Earlier yesterday, former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the practice of home quarantine poses a great risk as a Covid-19 patient’s condition has the tendency to become severe quickly and needs hospital equipment such as breathing assistance.

He said a more extensive observation should be implemented for mild and Category 3 Covid-19 patients to reduce the number of fatalities that occur at home.

Dr Mahathir added that Category 3 patients who are ordered to quarantine at home should be hospitalised due to the high risk, while Categories 1 and 2 patients should be monitored closely even though they are categorised as “mild”.

“More than a thousand Category 3 patients can be quarantined in temporary hospitals. The military can build a field hospital, while the halls in the hotels and other buildings can be equipped with beds, oxygen tanks as well as medical officers and nurses,” he said in an online post.