On 5 June 2021, the government commemorated the 100th day of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NIP). The NIP is an important national mission for the country. I believe Malaysians by and large are playing our part to ensure the swift success of the NIP.
However, many Malaysians are concerned about the slow pace of immunisation. On the 100th day of NIP, only 6.8% of the population have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 3.4% have received full doses.
The daily immunisation rate has indeed been on the rise in the past few weeks and I hope this can be sustained in the coming months.
In conjunction with the 100-day milestone, I would like to pose the following questions to the government. These questions are based on the feedback from my constituents and my personal experience on the ground.
I ask these questions in good faith and as part of my duty as an MP. After all, MPs currently have no room to do our job as parliament is still in perpetual lockdown. I hope the government would consider the issues raised and respond to them accordingly.
- How many of those who have registered for NIP are 60 years old and above, and how many of them have been vaccinated?
Phase 2 of the NIP prioritises senior citizens who are 60 years old and above, but many have not been called for their turn. On the ground, I receive queries on a daily basis from senior citizens who have been anxiously waiting for their turn for many months.
The government must ensure that senior citizens, especially those with comorbidities, receive their vaccine immediately. This is a stated priority in the NIP policy and should be followed through.
- How many non-senior citizens have been vaccinated in Phase 2 and what was the basis they were prioritised?
Phase 2 of the NIP also prioritises those in essential services and security personnel. However, there have been many allegations of queue cutting and abuse of power.
To address this issue, the government should provide the data on how many non-senior citizens have been vaccinated under this category, including the breakdown of categories or the basis on which they were approved.
- When will school teachers receive their vaccine as promised by the government?
In April, the government announced that 500,000 teachers will be vaccinated under Phase 2 of NIP. I have checked with several schools in my constituency and found that no teachers have received any vaccine yet. This includes kindergarten and child care teachers who are still required to open during MCO.
The Education Minister recently disclosed that only 70,000 school teachers have received at least one dose of vaccine thus far. This is far from satisfactory. The government must ensure all school teachers are fully vaccinated before school are reopened again. This should be done now and not left to the last minute.
- When does the government estimate to begin and complete Phase 3 of the NIP?
Phase 3 of the NIP, for the general population, was initially scheduled to begin in May 2021 but this timeline has clearly been missed. The government must provide a revised timeline for the NIP so that stakeholders know what to expect.
The revised timeline must be realised. As my colleague, MP for Bakri, has pointed out, it is unlikely that we will achieve herd immunity by the end of 2021 based on current strategies.
- What is the government’s policy on the vaccine queue for Phase 3?
There has been confusion as to how those under Phase 2 were queued for the vaccine. There were numerous cases where people who registered later or who are younger and healthy than others were given the vaccine before others.
The government needs to determine and announce this policy early to avoid queue cutting and to manage the expectation of the people. I propose that vaccines for Phase 3 should be given by age bracket on a randomised basis.
- How many queries and complaints have been received by JKJAV and MySejahtera from the public, and how many of them have been resolved?
Till today, my office is still receiving complaints on operational issues on NIP. Most of these problems are not new. For example, there was a senior citizen who was assigned to receive his vaccine in Klang although he registered using an address in Melaka. Such problems have occurred as early as March, but remain unresolved.
Most people who have tried contacting JKJAV (Special Committee on Ensuring Access to Covid-19 Vaccine Supply) and MySejahtera lamented that they were unable to get through or there was no response. As millions of taxpayers’ money have been used for the vaccine management system, the government should be accountable and disclose more information on how many complaints have received and resolved to date.
- What is the government’s strategy to ramp up vaccine registration?
After more than 3 months of NIP, only 52% of the eligible population has registered for the vaccine. The vaccine registration rate has begun to plateau in the past few weeks and.
What new strategies does the government intend to adopt to increase the registration rate in the coming months? The Prime Minister has mentioned that the government may introduce automatic registration. We hope more details can be announced soon, so that no time and effort would go to waste.
Khoo Poay Tiong is the Member of Parliament for Kota Melaka.
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