KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 29 — The government will directly contact senior citizens and patients with underlying diseases from health facilities across the public and private sectors to offer them Covid-19 vaccination.
Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the government currently has records of patients registered in the public health care system.
“We have a database of senior citizens and people with comorbidities who are registered in the national health system,” Khairy told CodeBlue in an exclusive interview Monday.
He added that the national Covid-19 vaccination programme would also approach private hospitals and clinics to get contact details of their patients with chronic illnesses.
The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) contacts people by letter, text, or email with information on how to book their appointments for coronavirus vaccination.
Public and private health spending are roughly equal in Malaysia. Besides the Ministry of Health (MOH), the military runs its own separate health service. Malaysians also seek treatment from public university hospitals, and private clinics and hospitals.
According to an analysis of Covid-19 deaths in Malaysia last year, more than half of victims suffered hypertension, followed by diabetes (38 per cent), heart disease (16 per cent), chronic kidney disease (14 per cent), and high cholesterol (12 per cent).
The national Covid-19 inoculation campaign targets 500,000 frontline workers from the health and security sectors in the first phase; followed by 6.5 million people comprising those aged 60 and above, and people with chronic disease in the second phase; and finally, the general public.
Khairy said the national Covid-19 vaccination programme will start in February, targeting 150,000 daily shots to the arm nationwide by the middle of the year. The government expects to complete vaccination of 27 million people, more than 80 per cent of the population, by March 2022, or the fastest by this December.
When asked if private health professionals would receive Covid-19 vaccines at the same time as MOH staff, Khairy said: “We’ve now made a decision that some Covid cases will be referred to private hospitals, so we’ll prioritise those hospitals first where they have Covid cases.”
The minister also said the government would not make it mandatory for frontliners to get vaccinated, when CodeBlue pointed out that Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy also exists among medical professionals.
“I’m sure Tan Sri Hisham will encourage strongly to staff to take it,” Khairy said, referring to Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.
“It’s important because if they take it, then the general public will become more confident. If they’re forced to take it, the general public will be like, ‘oh they were forced to take it’. But if they take it voluntarily, then the general public will be like, ‘they took it voluntarily’. We can show a statistic, 95 per cent of them took it, that will be a great statistic for us.”
While the first two phases of the coronavirus inoculation campaign will see the government directly reaching out to people for their shots, the government will use call centres, as well as open up vaccination registration online and through the MySejahtera app for the general public in the third phase.