Vaccine Inequity If Private Hospitals Sell Covid-19 Shots: DG Hisham

The Health DG explains that Covid-19 vaccination priority is for vulnerable groups, including frontline workers.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 4 — Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah today raised possible inequity if the government permits private hospitals to sell Covid-19 vaccines to the public in a parallel inoculation scheme.  

During his press conference on Malaysia’s Covid-19 cases, Dr Noor Hisham said the government is providing free Covid-19 vaccines for everyone and the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) has given conditional registration only to vaccines procured by the government.

The NPRA has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca-Oxford University, and Sinovac vaccines. Pharmaniaga Berhad previously said it had purchased two million Sinovac doses meant for the private sector, aside from the 12 million doses it is supplying to the government.

“The issue is selling in terms of dosing, so the government is providing free vaccination. That’s one and we are looking into equity as well, which means the priority is given to the high-risk vulnerable group and frontliners,” Dr Noor Hisham said today.

“Of course, now we are in Phase One we are giving to frontliners and hopefully in Phase Two, we are also looking seriously in terms of to scale up our vaccination to the vulnerable population.

“Most important is that we have enough supply and then probably we can roll out together in large scale mass vaccination,” the Health director-general added. 

Dr Noor Hisham said currently, private hospitals will be identified as vaccination sites to help the government in vaccinating the population. 

Previously, Association of Private Hospitals of Malaysia (APHM) president Dr Kuljit Singh said private hospitals are willing to procure and administer coronavirus vaccines on their own once these are approved by the NPRA. This is to help the government speed up the vaccination process so that it can achieve its target herd immunity sooner. 

Vaccine Minister Khairy Jamaluddin also said that private hospitals will not be allowed to do so yet, but it may be considered later. 

After inoculating an estimated 500,000 frontline workers, the national Covid-19 vaccination programme is scheduled to start Phase Two next month with people aged above 60 and those with underlying health conditions, numbering 9.4 million people.

National Covid-19 Highlights

Today, the Ministry of Health (MOH) reported 2,063 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the cumulative cases to 307,943. 

The highest number of cases were reported in Selangor (630), followed by Sarawak (361), and Penang (337). 

Currently, there are 23,161 active cases, among which 193 of them are being treated in the intensive care unit, including 99 of them on ventilator support. 

The death toll increased to 1,153 as five new casualties were reported today. 

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