KUALA LUMPUR, July 5 — The Selangor government’s independent Covid-19 vaccine rollout targets to fully inoculate 1.25 million people in four months in the country’s wealthiest state with the poorest vaccination rate under the federal programme.
Under the Selangor Vaccination Programme (SELVAX) — which is meant to complement the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK) — the Selangor state government independently procured 2.5 million doses of Sinovac’s vaccine from local pharmaceutical company Pharmaniaga Bhd to vaccinate 1.25 million, or 19 per cent, of the state’s 6.5 million population on a two-dose regimen.
“We hope to complete the programme within four months and vaccinate 1.25 million people. It’s a small amount, but it’s based on the capacity and the capability that we have. But that’s our target,” Muaz Omar, CEO of Selangor state-owned SELGATE Healthcare that is managing the SELVAX programme, told CodeBlue in an exclusive interview recently.
Muaz, who declined to reveal the exact number of Sinovac doses that have been delivered for the state’s order so far, said that the state government received the vaccine doses on June 25 to run the initial stage of SELVAX. He is grateful for the assistance rendered by the relevant Ministries and State Government on the delivery of the vaccines.
“We have the initial batch of Covid-19 vaccines basically to try to run the whole programme, to ensure that all our systems are in place, any bugs that need to fix the flow, scheduling in the system, and so on, so forth,” he said.
“So basically, it’s meant for us to familiarise and ensure that the whole process will be much smoother later on.”
Selangor has the lowest vaccination rate in Malaysia at just 7.2 per cent of its 4.8 million adult population fully inoculated as of July 3 (15.3 per cent has received one dose) months after the launch of the federal PICK, much lower than Putrajaya’s 41.9 per cent and Kuala Lumpur’s 17.2 per cent. In terms of the adult population vaccinated with at least one dose, Selangor only achieved 22.4 per cent under PICK, compared to Putrajaya’s 63.1 per cent and Kuala Lumpur’s whopping 83.3 per cent.
Although Vaccine Minister Khairy Jamaluddin claimed previously that Selangor has always been among the country’s top vaccine recipients (without giving specific vaccine delivery figures), the federal government is only now delivering more than four million doses to the state this month, even as the Klang Valley is struggling with overflowing hospitals in a worsening epidemic.
Selangor’s SELVAX programme will be carried out in more than 22 vaccination centres across the state, including convention centres, community halls 15 SelCare clinics and panel clinics under SELCARE. More than half of the state’s SELVAX vaccination centres consist of SelCare clinics and private general practitioners as vaccine administrators.
Muaz confirmed that SELVAX is charging industries RM350 per employee for two doses. The price — charged to employers, not workers — includes the cost of vaccines, administration, and other logistics costs.
“There’s no change in price, there is no agency in between. It’s a complete process. It includes all the vaccination administration cost, management of it, the holding cost, the manpower or volunteers, and the set up to the delivery of the vaccine. There are no hidden costs and no additional costs.”
The industrial SELVAX programme’s vaccination charge of RM350 per person for two doses (which includes the cost of purchasing the vaccines) exceeds the RM90 charge by the federal PIKAS inoculation programme for industries. PIKAS obtains vaccines for free from the central government. This, according to Muaz, is to enable the state to cross-subsidise and vaccinate some 250,000 people in Selangor for free.
Selangor — the country’s most populous and developed state — has allocated RM200 million in total for SELVAX to procure 2.5 million doses of Sinovac vaccines.
Earlier, Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari mentioned that the fund will be given as a loan to SELGATE Healthcare, a subsidiary of state-owned SELGATE Corporation Sdn Bhd, that will manage the state-level vaccination drive.
“The RM200 million is actually a state government loan to SELGATE. SELGATE must procure the vaccines and even the loan is not enough to pay for the vaccines cost alone. The loan is just to allow us to roll the money to procure vaccines and use it to buy further vaccines,” said Muaz.
The state government’s coronavirus vaccination drive will see 500,000 doses distributed for free to 250,000 high-risk recipients, such as the elderly and low-income, identified by the state under the SELVAX community initiative, while the remaining two million doses are allocated for industry workers.
“The vaccine that we buy, we’ll have to cross-subsidise. That’s why we are inviting companies and industry to join so that we can cross-subsidise the cost for 250,000 people that the state will vaccinate for free,” said Muaz.
Although the industrial SELVAX programme includes migrant workers, Muaz highlighted that only documented foreign workers will be included in the state’s Covid-19 vaccination drive.
“Everyone that is being vaccinated must have a valid document. For example, when we administer a second dose, how do we know if that is the right person who is going to receive it, if they do not have any documents?
“We do need to have a certain form of valid documentation, or passports or work permits,” said Muaz.
The federal government imposed an Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO) on nearly the entire state of Selangor with 6.5 million residents, as well as on specific localities in Kuala Lumpur from July 3 until 16.
This strict lockdown, which has closed most of industries in the state, however, allows residents in EMCO areas to cross district or state lines for their Covid-19 vaccination appointments by showing authorities their appointment details on MySejahtera, the federal government’s VaksinCovid website, or SMS.
According to Muaz, vaccine recipients under SELVAX will receive their vaccine appointments through SELangkah, a contact tracing application developed by the state of Selangor.
It is unknown if Covid-19 vaccine recipients with appointments in SELangkah would be allowed to cross state or district borders to receive their vaccination.
“The police and the relevant agencies are informed about the programme and where the vaccination centres are. So with regards to that, I don’t foresee any issue because it’s for vaccination, it’s not for something else,” said Muaz.
“Basically, we have begun discussion with with MySejahtera. We understand and we want data integration with MySejahtera. That’s what Coordinating Minister JKJAV and Selangor Menteri Besar have agreed.”
The Selangor administration set a target to inoculate 80 per cent of the state’s adult population with Covid-19 vaccines by end October, two months behind the federal government’s August target.
Muaz, who shared his opinion, leading SELVAX, said that he could not comment on policy decisions made by the state and the federal government. However, he pointed out that SELVAX has its own vaccine administration schedules and targets.
“We have a schedule that we plan to roll out and we aim to help not just the state, but also the federal government in terms of ensuring herd immunity sooner.
“So our intention here is clear. We want to help the federal government as well as the state’s economy to be protected so that our programme can help achieve more and vaccinate more people and shorten the process.”