The government should improve the registration and appointment system for Covid-19 vaccination. Currently, we can only register ‘interest’ for the vaccine, with no knowledge of the venue, date and time slot. This means there is a need for a second round of contact from our overworked frontliners to inform millions of Malaysians their respective vaccination dates, times and venues.
The registration rate among Malaysians seems to be low, at about 5.3 million to date, which is 22.1 per cent of the population. This is a far cry from the 70 per cent of population required to reach herd immunity.
The process can be made far more efficient if the vaccination venues are known upfront, and participants can choose their dates and time slots accordingly, the way we already do for most appointment systems, including in various government agencies.
After all, MySejahtera, where most registrations are done, is a location-based app and should be able to indicate the nearest available clinic or vaccination centre for the appointment. This is also easily replicated in the online registration system via vaksincovid.gov.my.
Rather than just registering interest, which is what’s happening now, allow people to book specific times and dates. At least then, it would justify compounding them if they do not show up for their appointment.
In fact, the Ministry of Health (MOH) already has in place such an appointment system (sans the penalty) when it comes to making appointments to see a doctor or even just to collect medicine in our local klinik kesihatan, as well as several private clinics via qmed.asia/booking.
MOH already has available resources in place which should be made use of to aid with the mass vaccination programme.
Right now, a lot of unnecessary efforts are being used to set vaccination appointments, even in Phase One. In my case, a doctor contacted me to inform me of my appointment, which is a waste of human resources and is an inefficient way to manage resources.
When my office opened a booth over the weekend to assist residents in Bukit Gasing to register, a common grouse was that they are afraid that if they are unable to attend the fixed appointment, they will then be fined.
Those who have medical commitments (such as dialysis, surgery, etc.) or outstation work commitments may not be able to attend on the pre-decided vaccine appointment date, if they are not given the flexibility or allowance to choose a date they themselves can commit to. This is ever more so so when the potential vaccine appointment is scheduled months from now.
Threatening the general public with action for failure to attend the vaccination appointment is serving more as a deterrent than encouragement to register, especially when under the Emergency Ordinance, these fines can go up to RM10,000.
If the government is really serious about achieving its 70 per cent target on schedule, then changes must be made to the current registration process.
We have the potential to improve the registration rate for the vaccination, make life easier for our medical frontliners and the public at large if we implement this one simple technical improvement in the registration process.
I call upon the Jawatankuasa Khas Jaminan Akses Bekalan Vaksin Covid-19 (JKJAV) to improve this registration process as soon as possible.
Rajiv Rishyakaran is the state assemblyman for Bukit Gasing.
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