Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation Khairy Jamaluddin has revealed that the COVID-19 vaccination will not be mandatory and Malaysians will need to sign up to get the jab. He shared that the COVID-19 vaccines will be administered voluntarily and Malaysians must indicate their willingness to be vaccinated once it’s available in the country.
To provide your consent, Khairy says the MySejahtera app will soon include a sign-up feature for this purpose. COVID-19 vaccinations will be offered for free to all Malaysians but the government has yet to decide whether or not to offer the vaccine to foreigners for free. The minister said the matter is still being discussed with the Foreign Ministry, Human Resources Ministry and the Home Ministry.
Khairy has shared concerns that employers may be unwilling to pay for vaccinations for their foreign workers as this might be an obstacle for them. He said the government aims to vaccinate as many people as possible as we would still be at risk if we leave out millions of foreigners because we haven’t hit the threshold of herd immunity.
The government aims to finalise the National Vaccination Plan by this Thursday and it is scheduled to start in February once the first batch of vaccines arrive. In preparation for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines, the government is procuring 55 special freezers valued at RM6.7 million which will be placed at 55 urban locations.
The first batch of 1 million vaccines are expected to arrive in February 2021 and it will be prioritised for frontliners and targetted high-risk groups including those who have non-communicable diseases and chronic respiratory diseases. The next phase involves 6.2 million vaccines which are due to arrive in April and May. In total, the government current plan is to procure enough vaccines to cover 82.8% of the population.
MySejahtera is Malaysia’s default app for check-in and contact tracing. As of December 2020, the app has acquired over 24 million users with an average downloads of 20,000 to 30,000 daily. It was reported that the app is clocking an average of 17 million check-ins per day. In last November, the Ministry of Health has revealed that the app has helped detect 18% of total COVID-19 cases in the country.
From the looks of it, MySejahtera could potentially be used as a digital proof of vaccination. As the vaccines are being rolled out globally, it may soon be a standard requirement for air travel and events. Singapore Airlines recently has implemented a digital health verification solution where it can verify a traveller’s vaccination status by scanning a QR code.
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