Home Civil Society Voices Why block free Covid vaccines for Penang?

Why block free Covid vaccines for Penang?


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When the nation is in the grips of escalating Covid infections, it would have been expected of the Ministry of Health to welcome all available resources in its battle to arrest the situation.

The Penang division of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress is therefore baffled as to why the federal authorities have deemed it fit to deprive the people of Penang the opportunity to avail themselves to free vaccinations courtesy of, as reported, a private company.

From what we understand, there is a pressing need to create herd immunity amongst the population and that can only be done so if the vast majority of the people are vaccinated. If that is the case, two million available doses of the Sinovac vaccine would be enough to vaccinate the entire 1.8 million people of Penang.

Given that Penang’s population density is among the highest in the nation, a vaccination rollout programme ought to prioritise the state in the pursuit to create this herd immunity.

While we recognise that the federal government has constraints, in the rollout of the national Covid immunisation programme, what we cannot comprehend is why it has found it fit to block the two million doses of free vaccination for the people of Penang.

They say one should not look a gift horse in the mouth, and we believe this would be an appropriate analogy in the circumstances. Faced with the unprecedented challenges of the Covid pandemic, we believe there is no reason for the federal government to deny the people of Penang the opportunity to avail themselves to the vaccination made available by a generous donor. The safety and wellbeing of the people ought to be the utmost consideration regardless of all political inclinations.

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We, therefore, urge the Ministry of Health and the Perikatan National government not to deny the people of Penang the opportunity to avail themselves to the Covid vaccination.

K Veeriah is secretary of the Penang division of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress

Update: Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Khairy Jamaluddin today claimed that the donation offer of two million doses of Sinovac vaccines from a private company is bogus.

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