Dr Adham: There’s no evidence of COVID-19 vaccine queue-cutting in Malaysia

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba said investigations on alleged queue-cutting for COVID-19 vaccines have yielded no evidence that any such incident occurred in the country.

Speaking to Malay Mail, Dr Adham insisted that vaccines have so far only been administered to those who were due to get them.

He said some confusion may have occurred as some got their shots earlier when those scheduled to be vaccinated before them either were not present or arrived late.

“So, I deny there was queue-cutting. What happened was, after investigations, I found that those who were supposed to be vaccinated did not turn up or did not come on time as they should.

“The issue is that when we open a vial, six people need to be vaccinated at one go. During registration some of them were there and when it was time to be administered, they were not. 

“So we were forced to find others at that time to avoid wasting the vaccine. That did happen, but we still gave the jabs to frontliners. Not those who were accused of getting it because of their connections.

“It was given to frontliners who were present at that time,” he said when asked about the controversy.

Health minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba Dr Adham insisted that vaccines have so far only been administered to those who were due to get them. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

Explaining further, Dr Adham said state executive councillors, elected federal and state lawmakers as well as senators were listed among first category recipients for phase one of the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme and qualified to be vaccinated as frontliners.

He also said the ministry used an appointment system for vaccination to ensure only those eligible would receive them.

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However, the minister said he has ordered Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah and all state health directors to investigate any claims of queue cutting seriously.

In a joint press conference with law minister Datuk Seri Takiyudin Hassan Wednesday, Dr Adham said COVID-19 vaccine queue jumpers could be fined up to RM50,000, imprisoned not more than six months, or both, national news agency Bernama reported.

He reportedly said such action could be taken under Section 31, which is a new provision under the Emergency (Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases) (Amendment) Ordinance 2021, which comes into effect on March 11.

He was quoted saying that Section 31 provided for the imposition of penalties under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342) for any offence not specified in it

Complaints of politicians and their aides of cutting the line for the COVID-19 vaccine made the rounds on social media following its rollout last week.

The aforementioned groups of individuals were listed under the Second Category of frontliners on the bottom most on the list of 12 groups eligible for vaccinations, far behind those listed under the First Category.

Under the guideline, frontliners are defined as individuals with high risks of contracting and infected by COVID-19 as they were exposed to infected patients, high-risks infected patients, patient samples or environment which had the potential to cause an infection.

The frontliner group is also divided into two categories, the First Category and Second Category respectively.

Ranking first and second in the list of 12 were those from the health sector (general practitioners, private dentists, private labouratories and traditional medicine practitioners) and enforcement agencies (Royal Malaysia Police, Malaysian Armed Forces, Immigration Department, Fire and Rescue Department, Prisons Department, Civil Defence Force and the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency.

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Primary and secondary school teachers with comorbidities and Health Ministry contractors (sanitisation and security) were also included in the Second Category frontliners list.

Separately, the First Category comprised technical personnel directly involved with treatment care (including institutions under the Health Ministry, Defence Ministry, private hospitals and teaching hospitals); while those in the Second Category comprised personnel involved in the health sector, enforcement agencies, security personnel and essential services.

A health worker loads a syringe with a dose of the Pfizer-BioTech COVID-19 vaccine at the UiTM Hospital in Sungai Buloh March 2, 2021. ― Picture by Hari Anggara

Examples of technical personnel (management and professionals, paramedics and auxiliaries) listed under the guideline were medical officers, dentistry officers, pharmacists, science officers, environmental health officers, nurses and various assistant health officers.

However, the definitive list is subjected to future amendments on decisions and conditions stipulated by the Special Committee for Ensuring Access to COVID-19 Vaccine Supply (JKJAV).

On March 1, JKJAV said that only Cabinet members, state executive councillors, federal and state lawmakers and government officials accompanying ministers abroad qualify as political “frontliners” for phase one of the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme, according to a guideline released today.

The definitive guideline was shared by Minister of Science, Innovation and Technology (Mosti) Khairy Jamaluddin, following reports that some politicians and their aides were given access to the vaccines last week ahead of their turns. — Malay Mail

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