More mobile vaccination centres needed as onsite PPVs not suitable for all

FMM says PPVs are not suitable for smaller companies, particularly SMEs, due to the lack of economies of scale in the cost of setting up such centres within the premises


THE onsite vaccination centres (PPVs) are not suitable for small companies or manufacturers due to lack of space, capital and resources, according to the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM).

Also, FMM said PPVs by factory owners have already been established through the Covid-19 Public-Private Partnership Industrial Immunisation Programme (Pikas) by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI).

“Onsite PPVs are therefore not suitable for smaller companies, particularly small and medium enterprises (SMEs), due to the lack of economies of scale in the cost of setting up such centres within the premises.

“Similarly, it is not feasible for SMEs to purchase vaccines for their employees through the state and private vaccine initiatives due to the high cost for two doses of the vaccine,” FMM president Tan Sri Soh Thian Lau told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

He said there are currently 33 onsite PPVs as at July 25, 2021, established by anchor companies consisting of multinational corporations and large local companies nationwide, which absorb both the costs of setting up the PPVs and vaccine administration expenses.

However, he said the number of onsite PPVs under Pikas is limited due to the stringent requirement set by the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF), which stipulates that onsite PPV can only be established provided the company or group of companies has at least 1,000 workers and the PPV venue which will need to be inspected by CITF and MITI should be large enough to accommodate five main stations for PPV namely, Screening, Registration, Consultation, Vaccination and Monitoring.

Depending on the type of model — common use PPVs and onsite PPVs — employers are currently paying between RM90 and RM120 per employee for two doses of vaccine under Pikas.

FMM welcomes the drive-through vaccination initiative as it is not costly to operate and also ensures no risk of overcrowding.

Soh said to ensure that vaccines are administered to factory workers within the shortest possible time with the lowest total cost to the factories, FMM advocates the use of mobile vaccination units or vehicles — trucks or buses.

“They will not only address the difficulties to transport employees to and from vaccination centres, but also assist factories that still have workers who are not vaccinated.

“Mobile vaccination units can be established at industrial areas where there is a high density of SMEs with smaller number of employees or at workers’ living quarters, for example hostels, centralised labour quarters and temporary living quarters,” he added.

As at Aug 26, 2021, 890,313 employees have been administered the first dose and 600,799 employees have received the second dose.

In addition to Pikas, since vaccine supply became commercially available in May this year, manufacturers are also purchasing their own vaccine for employees through available state vaccination initiatives or directly from approved vaccine suppliers, and FMM understands that the cost can be as high as RM350 per employee for two doses.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob on Aug 29 stressed that all factory owners who employ foreign workers should set up their own PPV at their premises.

Factories should contribute to economic growth and not be the centre for the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak, he said in a post on his Facebook page.

He also said the drive-through vaccination initiative would be expanded soon so that the people do not have to wait longer than 15 minutes in their vehicles to get their Covid-19 jabs.

To get individual factory owners involved in the inoculation process of their staff, Osel Group chief clinical and innovative scientist Dr Kris See stressed that stringent medical SOPs and measures needed to be in place.

Industrial factories operators are not well equipped nor experienced enough as medical clinics, centres and hospitals, hence he thinks this would not generate sustainable efforts in the continuation fight with the pandemic.

“Extra costs will be involved. Gauging from past experiences, when many mega PPVs are closed down in the Klang Valley once we achieve the inoculation target, we could learn from past experiences and avoid such measures.

“Factory PPVs can be done, but it would not be worthwhile. Instead, why not get the community clinics, medical centres and hospitals involved in this? They are already well trained to face all eventualities. We would not need to reinvent the wheel,” he told TMR.

He believes the onus is on the stakeholders to report all eventualities.

“I suspect this would again be a case of the right hand not in sync with the left hand.”