DG Hisham Contradicts Khairy, Says Undocumented Migrants May Not Need Vaccines

Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah says it may not be necessary to vaccinate undocumented foreign workers against Covid-19 if 80 per cent of the population has already been inoculated.

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 19 — Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said undocumented foreign workers may not require Covid-19 vaccination if Malaysia achieves herd immunity, directly contradicting vaccine minister Khairy Jamaluddin’s pledge to inoculate them.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) quoted Dr Noor Hisham yesterday as saying that the government may administer shots to undocumented migrant workers only in phase four, after completing the first three phases of the national Covid-19 vaccination programme for frontline workers, high-risk groups, and the general public aged above 18.

He was also quoted saying that a single-dose vaccine, like Johnson & Johnson and CanSino Biologics, may be given to undocumented foreign workers.

“However, if immunisation has already reached the 80 per cent coverage target, perhaps it won’t be necessary anymore to vaccinate these undocumented migrants,” MOH reported Dr Noor Hisham as saying.

Khairy, who has been appointed Coordinating Minister to run the national Covid-19 vaccination programme, has never said that undocumented migrant workers would be placed right at the back of the vaccination queue, or that they might not be inoculated at all.

Instead, he told a press conference Wednesday that the government was coming up with a plan on how to reach out to undocumented foreign workers — either through foreign embassies, international organisations, or civil societies — for vaccination while allaying fears of detention.

The government has appointed Khairy to chair the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force, assisted by Health deputy director-general (public health) Dr Chong Chee Keong and Deputy Chief of Army Lieutenant General Mohammad Ab Rahman.

Human Resources Minister M. Saravanan reportedly said yesterday that employers could face three years’ imprisonment and a maximum RM200,000 fine under the Workers’ Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities (Amendment) Act 2019, if they do not ensure vaccination of their foreign workers living in company-provided accommodation.

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