Engage Stakeholders And Get Public Feedback For Covid-19 Vaccination — MMA

Who will fall under the category as ‘vulnerable’ or high risk will need to be determined and listed in proper order.

MMA thanks MOSTI (Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation) for shedding light on the direction to be taken by the government to secure Covid-19 vaccines for the country. We believe such updates, given to the public on a regular basis will be most appreciated by all Malaysians as the issue of vaccines for Covid-19 are of national interest.

Our colleagues in the medical fraternity and members of the public had expressed concern over Malaysia’s preparedness to obtain supply for Covid-19 vaccines as the deadline for joining the COVAX Vaccination Plan was coming to a close.

We are however pleased to hear a decision has been made on the COVAX Vaccine Plan. This move, to join the COVAX Vaccination Plan can be seen as an insurance policy to ensure access to vaccine supply on top of the government’s efforts to secure vaccine supply through bilateral negotiations with candidate vaccine manufacturers.

Moving forward, it is hoped that MOSTI will work closely together with MOH on the vaccination plan. We urge the government to ensure full transparency in carrying this out. The public must be kept informed on progress.

MMA supports MOSTI’s suggestion for the vaccines to be at no cost to the public and looks forward to ways this can be made possible.

Together with the government’s cabinet working group for Covid-19 vaccines, MOSTI and MOH (Ministry of Health) will also need to address the big question of who or which groups will be prioritised for vaccination.

The universal approach would be to prioritise vulnerable groups. Who will fall under the category as ‘vulnerable’ or high risk will need to be determined and listed in proper order. This needs to be well planned ahead of vaccine distribution.

Under the COVAX Vaccine Plan, “Subject to funding availability, funded countries will receive enough doses to vaccinate up to 20 per cent of their population in the longer term. Since demand is initially likely to exceed supply once vaccines do become available, allocation will be spread across countries based on the number of doses that are available and increase as that availability increases.”

We will need to determine which vulnerable or high risk groups will be given priority for vaccination among this 20 percent mentioned. This can be a challenge and important decisions will need to be made in the near future.

Finally, apart from consulting the experts and professional groups, we believe obtaining public feedback will also be an important step to take through stakeholder engagement. The public should be involved in the decision making process.

Dr N. Ganabaskaran is president of the Malaysian Medical Association.

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