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KUCHING, April 13 — Strategic intervention is necessary to encourage priority groups under Phase II of the Covid-19 vaccination programme to register, said Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii.
In a statement today, he said the low registration rate for those prioritised under Phase II — senior citizens and high-risk groups with chronic disease and disabilities — is worrying.
Dr Yii opined the federal government and Special Committee on Covid-19 Vaccine Supply Access Guarantee (JKJAV) must reveal specific data of those who have received their appointments for Phase II vaccinations by district and even sub-district.
“This is so we all can help monitor and help remove any obstacles for this group so that they do not miss out on their vaccination appointment that is scheduled to start on April 19 in some states.
“Through this specific data, we can then properly identify specific locations where either registration is low or slow response to appointment dates, then we can properly plan and activate the ‘whole-of society’ approach to remove any obstacles to make sure they do not miss out on their appointments,” he said.
Dr Yii noted Science, Technology, and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaludin’s recent statement that more than half of the 31,776 that have been given vaccination dates for Phase II have not responded, thus risking them losing their appointment.
“This is concerning because the ones receiving the dates now are the ones that are the priority for the vaccine programme.
“They are likely elderly and those with comorbidities, underlying diseases, OKUs (disabled) who are part of the high-risk groups that if infected will likely develop more severe symptoms or even face death due to Covid-19,” he said.
He pointed out that based on statistics, about 86.3 per cent or 1,126 cases of the total 1,304 deaths in Malaysia due to Covid-19 recorded until April 7 were those with a history of comorbidities such as high blood pressure or diabetes, or the elderly.
“These are the groups that are receiving their appointments now and my concern is that if they miss it, they may be pushed back in the queue, which is risky as they need to be protected as soon as possible.
“While some cases maybe they are slow to reply, but in some cases maybe they are unaware of such appointments or could not be contacted,” he said.
Dr Yii urged the government to find ways to reach out and contact these priority groups.
He pointed out that some of the elderly may be unfamiliar with checking for their appointment dates on MySejahtera.
“Some may have received the phone call from the Health Department, but it may appear as an unknown number and some may not want to pick up.
“That is why the government must explore different options to look at reaching out to them, including calling next of kin or family members to make sure their elderly are aware of their appointments,” he said.
Dr Yii said generally the medical records of such patients, especially the elderly and those with comorbidities, are with hospitals and they could use those to help contact them in different ways if they are not responding.
He added those in the private sector could also send out reminders to patients in their database to firstly encourage to sign up for the programme and then remind them to check and not miss their appointments.
“Another database that could be used is the PekaB40 database especially for those for comorbidities. They could use this database to reach out to them to first and foremost get registered, and also to alert them once their appointment is set.
“We do not want to see the vaccines go to waste, and even more for those who really need the vaccine to miss their appointments because they were not aware,” he said.
He stressed that strategic communications and educational programmes and materials must continue to address hesitancy and concerns of the public, even those that may have second thoughts after registering or the desired 70 to 80 per cent herd immunity will not achieved. — Borneo Post Online