KUCHING, Mar 14 — It is feared that at the rate Malaysia is going, the government may not reach the target of vaccinating 80 per cent of the nation’s population against Covid-19 by the first quarter of next year.

In expressing this concern, Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president Prof Datuk Dr Subramaniam Muniandy opined that the government should aim to expedite the national vaccination programme for it to reach completion as early as possible, and within this year.

Towards this end, he called upon all community and grassroots leaders, heads of religious groups, corporate leaders, the business community, professional associations and even social influencers to play a larger role in increasing the number of registrations for the national vaccination programme.

Focusing on the influencers, he expressed hope for them to do their part in encouraging their communities, networks or followers to register early.

“We have waited a year for a way out of the Covid-19 pandemic and the answer has finally arrived.

“However, many Malaysians seem to be hesitant about registering (for vaccination) for various reasons, even when the solution to the pandemic is now available,” he said in a statement yesterday.

According to him, the benefits of the Covid-19 vaccines far outweigh the risks and thus, the people should not hesitate to register themselves and their loved ones for the national vaccination programme.

Adding on, he pointed out that there was sufficient evidence to show that the vaccines were safe.

“Before any vaccine could be approved for use in the country, it must undergo stringent checks by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA), with the highest priority given to efficacy and safety.

“Only with the NPRA’s approval can any vaccine be brought in for use. Any side effect from the (Covid-19) vaccine is known to be mild, with serious side effects being rare,” he said, while calling upon elderly individuals and those with comorbidities to register now as these groups are set to receive their vaccine shots beginning next month under Phase II of the national immunisation programme.

“A person should avoid taking the vaccine if they are known to have allergies to any component within the vaccine. Even so, they might be able to take one of the other vaccines.”

Adding on, Dr Subramaniam highlighted the importance of more people getting vaccinated as quickly as possible.

“The sooner the majority of the population gets vaccinated, the sooner the country can recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, as businesses should be able to operate confidently without much disruption.

“The sectors that had been shut could open once again if their workers were vaccinated.

“Several countries are also in talks on allowing international travels for vaccinated travellers. Those who need to travel or enjoy travelling should get themselves ready now by registering for the vaccination programme,” he said. — Borneo Post Online