KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 25 — Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah clarified today that three “influencers” reportedly at the head of the line to be vaccinated against Covid-19 at Hospital Serdang are clinical department heads.
He was responding to a report by the Malaysiakini news portal that the vaccination of three “influencers” ahead of frontline medical personnel tomorrow was affecting morale at the hospital.
“Please be informed that the so-called influencers are our clinical head departments themselves. To encourage their staff frontliners to have the vaccines.
“There will be no cutting queues and no non-medical influencers to be included including from admin staff,” said Dr Noor Hisham in a Twitter post today.
In the report titled “Plan to vaccinate influencers, administrators first leaves frontliners puzzled”, the portal cited unnamed sources as claiming that the hospital wanted to include influencers in the drive as it would encourage others to also take the vaccines.
While the news portal stated that it did not know the identity of the influencers chosen, some readers interpreted it to mean non-medical personnel.
This prompted National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme coordinating minister Khairy Jamaluddin to issue a denial on Twitter.
“This is not true. I have spoken to @DGHisham. He will issue a statement. Please stop spreading news based on anonymity,” he said in reference to Dr Noor Hisham’s Twitter handle.
The Ministry of Health (MoH) also later issued an official statement confirming that only clinical department heads in Hospital Serdang are set to be vaccinated along with other frontliners.
It also advised the media to be careful when reporting and to only disseminate information that is confirmed to be true.
“The clinical department heads are consultants in their respective clinical fields and exposed to the risks of Covid-19. They have frequent contact with patients and their families while performing tasks.
“MOH hopes that such false reports can be acted upon immediately by the authorities to avoid misunderstandings among the community. The public is also advised to check first before trusting any news or spreading it to others,” it said.
The National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme officially started yesterday, with Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin being the first person to receive the vaccine in the country.
This will be followed by over 500,000 frontliners who will receive the vaccine throughout the first phase of the programme, which lasts until April.
A further two phases of the programme will be conducted, and aim to cover at least 80 per cent of Malaysia’s adult population by the end of it.