Government Denies Charging For Malls’ Covid-19 Vaccine Rollout, Supply Unknown

By Kanmani Batumalai |

ProtectHealth Corporation and the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs deny collecting any fee for the Covid-19 vaccination programme that is being charged at RM50 per recipient by shopping centres.

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KUALA LUMPUR, June 1 — Shopping centres nationwide are charging retail workers RM50 for complete Covid-19 vaccination, despite using vaccines that are already provided for free under the government inoculation programme. 

According to a circular by the Malaysia Shopping Malls Association (PPK Malaysia) on May 29 sighted by CodeBlue, a nominal fee of RM50 will be charged for vaccinating each person with two doses of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Sinovac vaccine — both of which are provided in the government’s National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK). 

PPK Malaysia aims to start their Covid-19 vaccination programme from the end of June at vaccination centres (PPVs) set up at shopping centres, even as the government has only inoculated just a fraction of 9.4 million targeted high-risk individuals — such as the elderly — under Phase Two of PICK. A brutal new wave of the Covid-19 epidemic killed a record high 1,290 people last month.

PPK Malaysia’s circular stated that a total of RM30 per person will be charged as administration fee (RM15 per dose) and another RM20 per person for logistic expenditure (RM10 per dose). The RM30 fee for two doses is supposedly paid to ProtectHealth Corporation, a company owned by the Ministry of Health (MOH) that manages private medical practitioners who sign up as vaccinators under PICK.

CodeBlue contacted PPK Malaysia — which represents major shopping centres in the Klang Valley and other states — to verify the authenticity of the circular. A representative from PPK Malaysia said: “Yes, we sent the circular. We want to vaccinate the staff to make shopping malls a safer place.”

PPK Malaysia’s circular stated that their coronavirus vaccination programme will be conducted together with the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) under the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry (MOSTI) and the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (KPDNHEP).

“As mentioned panel doctors and medical personnel, for example nurses registered under ProtectHealth Corporation (PHC) will administer the vaccinations and malls will need to pay RM15 per dose to PHC,” PPK Malaysia president Teo Chiang Kok said in his May 29 circular to the association’s members.

“As each course requires two rounds of vaccination, the total cost to be paid to PHC will be RM30 per pax which we will strongly encourage malls to undertake for their own employees.”

However, ProtectHealth Corporation denied collecting payments from shopping centres purportedly rolling out Covid-19 inoculation drives with vaccinators from ProtectHealth Corp.

“ProtectHealth involvement remains the same for all vaccination centres. We pay private medical practitioners RM14 per dose administered,” Khairul Faizi from the corporate communications unit of ProtectHealth Corp told CodeBlue today.

“We don’t supply vaccines as our role is managing the private medical practitioners. The vaccine supply is done by the government, similar to other vaccination centres.”

KPDNHEP corporate communications unit head Yunus Tasim firmly denied collecting money from any party for the shopping centres’ Covid-19 vaccination programmes.

“We are finding ways to vaccinate the economic frontliners in the country who are in constant interaction with consumers,” Yunus told CodeBlue.

“We don’t collect money from anyone for the vaccines. The vaccines are from the government and it is free of charge,” he added.

Malls like Suria KLCC, KL Gateway, Bangsar Village, Aeon, and Damansara Uptown Two have already informed tenants on their Covid-19 vaccination programmes, charging RM50 per vaccine recipient. 

KPDNHEP previously announced last May 28 that the “Economic Frontliners Vaccination Programme” for the retail sector will begin this month, covering more than 500,000 retail workers.

Nonetheless, CITF has yet to announce the launch date of this inoculation programme, nor explained whether it would involve charging vaccine recipients or their employers. The source of the Covid-19 vaccine supply for retail workers or other “economic frontliners” was not mentioned by any involved stakeholders.

MOSTI did not respond to CodeBlue’s requests for clarification at the time of writing.

Vaccine Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said earlier today that the government would begin to vaccinate workers in industries and economic sectors that must remain open during the Movement Control Order (MCO). However, shopping centres are closed during the “total lockdown” until June 14, except for supermarkets and department stores that sell food and beverages and daily essentials.

At the same time, a purported May 31 letter by Chevy Beh, founder and CEO of BookDoc, a medical mobile app, stated that the organisation is offering onsite Covid-19 vaccination for industries by charging RM100 per dose per person, or RM200 for complete vaccination with two doses. 

Companies will be charged based on headcount, set at a minimum of 500 recipients, including companies with smaller headcounts. The purported letter claimed that BookDoc has been appointed as a service provider in the AstraZeneca vaccination programme at World Trade Centre (WTC) Kuala Lumpur.

BookDoc representatives reportedly dismissed the BookDoc letter, which has gone viral, as “fake”, according to The Malay Mail and Malaysiakini.

When CodeBlue tried to contact BookDoc CEO Beh, he refused to speak, simply saying: “I am busy now. Ok bye”, before hanging up the call. 

BookDoc claimed on its website that it has been appointed by MOH and MOSTI as a “vaccine coordinator”.

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