KUALA LUMPUR, April 30 — The Pahang state government justified its decision to vaccinate hospitality staff ahead of high-risk groups, claiming that Sinovac’s Covid-19 vaccine was unsuitable for people with underlying health conditions.
The Pahang State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC), in a statement yesterday, said that the state has vaccinated all their health and essential service frontliners with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, on top of non-health related frontliners, including teachers with comorbidities, during Phase One of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK). Another 1,120 teachers received the Pfizer shot after Phase One, totalling 3,820 teachers vaccinated so far.
The state then received 5,600 doses of the Sinovac vaccine that it allocated for workers in local authorities (102 people); clinic support services (104 people); Radicare, a company that provides hospital support services (540 people); transport (1,726 people); and the hotel industry (3,036 people).
Pahang SDMC said it initially targeted just 1,575 doses for hotel workers, but increased recipients in the hotel industry to 3,036 people after poor response from land transport workers.
“As outlined by the national Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF), this Sinovac vaccine is not suitable for administration to groups with comorbidities,” Pahang SDMC claimed.
“The 3,036 individuals from the hotel industry (housekeepers, cleaners, and maintenance staff) are from six districts, and not just workers in Genting Group.”
Pahang SDMC’s statement contradicts Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin’s statement last April 12 that the federal Special Committee on Ensuring Access to Covid-19 Vaccine Supply (JKJAV) recommended including people aged 60 and above for inoculation with Sinovac’s vaccine, as a review of clinical data found the Sinovac vaccine offered complete protection against severe Covid-19 disease.
The elderly often have underlying health conditions that make them particularly susceptible to developing severe disease or dying from Covid-19.
The National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) has also approved the Sinovac vaccine for use in Malaysia for adults aged 18 and above, based on a 50.65 per cent efficacy rate in preventing symptomatic Covid-19.
According to Sinovac’s product information on NPRA’s website, the vaccine is only contraindicated, or not recommended for use, in individuals with allergies to any component of the vaccine, those with previous severe allergic reactions to the vaccine, individuals with severe neurological conditions, pregnant and lactating women, and people with “uncontrolled severe chronic diseases”.
Pahang SDMC also claimed that they took this initiative of vaccinating hospitality and other staff because of the Genting cluster that infected 563 people, hence it was the state’s own effort to revive the economy.
Khairy last Wednesday said that it was the state CITF that made the decision to immunise people from the tourism sector, denying allegations that it was a federal decision.