Khairy: 400,000 Foreigners Registered For Covid-19 Jabs

Khairy Jamaluddin says undocumented migrants must be vaccinated as a public health strategy.

KUALA LUMPUR, June 17 — About 400,000 foreigners, comprising expatriate and migrant workers, have registered under MySejahtera for Covid-19 vaccination, Khairy Jamaluddin said Wednesday.

This accounts for about 2.7 per cent of some 14.6 million registrations as of June 16, or 16 per cent of an estimated 2.5 million documented foreign nationals residing in Malaysia.

“We don’t discriminate between foreigners and Malaysians. Appointments are issued in phases so if you’re lucky enough to participate in the AstraZeneca opt-in programme, it doesn’t matter if you are Malaysian or not, you will be given your vaccination,” Vaccine Minister Khairy told The Oxford and Cambridge Society Malaysia’s “The Path to Herd Immunity” public dialogue conducted online yesterday.

“Expatriates and foreigners who have registered with the industry programme will get vaccinated soon under the government’s Public-Private Covid-19 Industrial Immunisation Programme (PIKAS). Those who are registered under the normal channel under the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK) will get their appointments within a few months. 

PIKAS, also referred to as Phase Four of PICK, will see Covid-19 vaccines being distributed to industrial workers.

Khairy, the coordinating minister of PICK, also said Malaysia will work with United Nations (UN) agencies to vaccinate the refugee population in the country, which is estimated to be just under 200,000 people with UNHCR cards.

He said refugees with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) cards will be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 once they are identified. Apart from refugees, documented migrants — who typically work in the manufacturing, construction and plantation sectors — will also be vaccinated under both the national and industrial programmes.

Khairy said the concern, however, is on how to approach migrants who are undocumented. 

Malaysia had an estimated 3.26 million foreign workers in 2017, though unofficial data suggests there are as many as four million irregular foreign workers, according to The World Bank. The report states that Indonesians made 40 per cent of Malaysia’s total foreign worker population of 3.26 million in 2017, followed by Nepalese (22 per cent) and Bangladeshis (14 per cent).

“My biggest fear is if we send the wrong public message to undocumented migrants, which will cause them to hide and they won’t come out to get a vaccination. As a public health strategy, that is risky because you are not reaching out to people who are highly mobile,” Khairy said.

The Immigration Department recently conducted raids against undocumented migrants, even reportedly spraying disinfectant on detainees during a raid in Cyberjaya last June 6.

Home Minister Hamzah Zainudin said last Saturday that undocumented migrant workers would not be eligible for Covid-19 inoculation and that there is an estimated 2.5 million documented foreign nationals residing in Malaysia.

In a separate statement, Senior Works Minister Fadillah Yusof said the Malaysian Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) yesterday offered Covid-19 vaccination to 40,000 workers in the construction industry.

Under the programme, the private sector is required to prepare and fund their own qualified medical teams and vaccination centres, while the vaccine will be supplied and delivered to them free of charge by the government.

“CIDB will coordinate and facilitate the implementation of the immunisation programme on behalf of the construction industry,” he said in a statement yesterday.

The programme charges RM140 per person in vaccination fees for two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. As a proactive measure, CIDB said it will provide a subsidy of RM50 for each worker and allow its premises to be used as a vaccination centre.

“This means that employers in the construction industry will only have to pay RM90 for each of their workers to be fully vaccinated.

“Participation in the programme is voluntary and employers in the construction industry can choose to have their own vaccination programmes by dealing with the CITF,” he said.

CIDB’s vaccination programme will be held in Kuala Lumpur on June 30 and in Selangor on July 14.

Correction: CodeBlue made an error in the number of refugees in Malaysia. The correct number is 200,000 with UNHCR cards, not 2,000 as earlier reported. The error has been corrected.

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