Khairy: Voluntary Covid-19 vaccinations not due to pressure from anti-vaxxers

Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin speaks during the launch of the Malaysia Grand Challenge in Putrajaya January 8, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin speaks during the launch of the Malaysia Grand Challenge in Putrajaya January 8, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

PUTRAJAYA, Jan 8 ― Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin dismissed allegations that the government bowed to pressure from anti-vaccination conspiracy theorists in making Covid-19 vaccination voluntary among Malaysians.

Addressing the allegations, Khairy explained that the government aimed at ensuring its citizens are comfortable and confident in their willingness to be vaccinated.

“As far as I know, no country has mandated compulsory Covid-19 vaccination by law,” he said in a press conference here.

“We will build on the vaccine confidence through our communication plan which would then encourage people to willingly get themselves vaccinated after having gone through risk communications.

“I think if you were to mandate it by law, you might not just have reaction from anti-vaxxers but those on the fence right now,” he added, referring to the anti-vaccination mob.

Khairy had previously stressed that Malaysians must indicate their willingness to be vaccinated once the vaccines become available in the country.

“We want to build a spirit of community in that if I get vaccinated I protect everyone and if you get vaccinated you will protect me. That is a better approach than forcing people to take (vaccination),” he adds.

Khairy also said Malaysians would not be given the choice to select which Covid-19 vaccine they want as it would be “a big logistical nightmare” for the government.

“My main point is that any vaccine registered by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) is safe. I don’t want Malaysians to feel that ‘oh I got this vaccine, as opposed to that vaccine’.

“We will ensure that whatever it is, the vaccines we buy are registered and safe,” he said, adding that the brand of vaccine will be recorded in one’s vaccination card so they will be given the same type for the second dosage.

As for the National Vaccination Plan, which is scheduled to start in February, Khairy said the plan will be tabled in Cabinet next week following its finalisation.

The NVP is a comprehensive plan that covers the period before vaccines are received, including hospitals that can register to have access to the vaccines, as well as the transportation and storage of vaccines.

The first phase of Malaysia’s Covid-19 immunisation campaign starting next month is aimed at inoculating about a million Malaysians first, mainly frontline workers and high-risk groups like people with non-communicable diseases.

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