KUALA LUMPUR, June 21 — Private companies are paying for Covid-19 shots for workers due to their offer to help defray vaccination costs via the opt-in Public-Private Covid-19 Industrial Immunisation Programme (PIKAS), Khairy Jamaluddin said today.
The vaccine minister said industry players have expressed willingness to shoulder some of the costs involved to accelerate their workers’ inoculation under PIKAS. Khairy denied that the fees imposed were intended to make a profit off of vaccines.
“The government is providing the vaccines free of charge and the employer or the company will bear the operational cost of the vaccination charge by ProtectHealth Corp. The charges that we impose are kept to a minimum and we ensure that it is not burdensome to the industry,” Khairy told a media briefing today.
“[Businesses] have come forward and said that we (the industry) are willing, able and happy to assist the government by absorbing the operational cost of PIKAS.
“So, while the government, of course, has the budget to roll out the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK), we welcome this contribution from the private sector so that we can use the budget for PICK for the rollout on the general population,” he added.
The government’s decision to charge private sector employers RM45 per dose under PIKAS had earlier raised concerns as well as allegations that ProtectHealth — a Ministry of Health (MOH) owned company that is managing private medical practitioners registered as vaccinators under — was profiteering from vaccine charges imposed on the private sector.
The RM45 charge per dose covers RM15 vaccine administration payment to ProtectHealth and RM30 PPV venue payment to PPV operators for common-use PPVs.
Critics, including Khairy’s predecessor Yeo Bee Yin, said the vaccine administration fees should have been budgeted under the government’s RM5 billion allocation for PICK, which includes RM 3.5 billion on vaccine procurement and RM1.5 billion for supporting administrative expenses, including RM210 million for private medical practitioners.
Khairy on June 14 revealed that private medical practitioners have administered only about 11 per cent of Covid-19 shots in Malaysia as of June 11, or 450,219 of 4,227,554 total doses.
CodeBlue’s calculation found that the amount is equivalent to RM6,753,285 spent, or just about 3 per cent of the RM210 million budgeted for private medical practitioners.
With Khairy projecting private medical practitioners to contribute about 78,000 doses per day on June 23, and 145,000 doses a day by July, the estimated cost should hit a total of RM92,448,285, or just 44 per cent of the overall RM210 million allocation by the end of July.
This means there is still RM117,551,715, or nearly 56 per cent of the budget left to pay for vaccinations administered by private medical practitioners after July 31. The remaining fund should be enough to cover 7,836,781 more doses.