The recent statement by Vaccine Minister Khairy Jamaludin that more than half (57 per cent) of the 31,776 who have been given vaccination dates for Phase Two have not responded must be taken extremely seriously.
According to him, of the 31,776 appointments sent out through the MySejahtera application and SMS, 18,215 did not respond, 13,218 confirmed their appointment dates, and 343 declined.
We have just started Phase Two and low response rates will delay our progress in having 70 per cent of the population required to reach herd immunity, keeping in mind that achieving herd immunity is a race against time.
Clearly the current method of merely “registering your interest” in vaccination and setting the appointment dates separately later by SMS or push notification is failing miserably. All the efforts by various parties to register people for vaccination at the markets and other public areas are wasted,
Rather than just register your interest, which is what is happening now, Khairy must allow people to book their specific times and dates. It is time to take this seriously, if we want to achieve herd immunity as soon as possible!
I have made several statements with regard to how the process can be made far more efficient if the vaccination venues are known upfront, and participants can choose their date and time slot accordingly, the way we already do for most appointment systems, including for various government agencies.
After all, MySejahtera is a location-based app and should be able to indicate the nearest available clinic/vaccination centre for the appointment to be made.
In fact, the Ministry of Health already has such an appointment system in place 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. It is baffling that the government will not use readily available technology to smoothen the process.
Khairy is complaining that there are low responses, instead of taking the proactive move to improve the registration process. He said those who declined their first appointment date will then receive a second appointment date.
How long will this cycle of people declining and new dates being proposed will go on? This will not only further strain the health care system but lengthen the waiting time for people.
Not only will we increase the registration rate but the process of setting up these appointments will be made significantly easier with this technical change. It would be almost like buying movie tickets! I call upon Jawatankuasa Khas Jaminan Akses Bekalan Vaksin Covid-19 (JKJAV) to make this tweak in the registration process that will benefit everyone involved.
Rajiv Rishyakaran is the Assemblyman for Bukit Gasing.
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.