On RM50 Covid-19 vaccination fee: Shopping malls say actual estimated cost up to RM150 but giving subsidy to tenants

A healthcare worker administers a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to a frontliner at the UiTM Private Specialist Centre in Sungai Buloh March 2, 2021. ― Picture by Hari Anggara
A healthcare worker administers a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to a frontliner at the UiTM Private Specialist Centre in Sungai Buloh March 2, 2021. ― Picture by Hari Anggara

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KUALA LUMPUR, June 2 — The RM50 fee per person to be collected under planned Covid-19 vaccinations onsite at shopping malls for participating retail tenants is not profiteering, the Malaysia Shopping Malls Association (PPK Malaysia) said today.

Instead, the association representing shopping malls claimed that the actual estimated cost for logistics and the health personnel needed to administer the Covid-19 vaccines could go up to RM100 and even RM150, and that the malls had actually decided to subsidise the cost with plans to only collect RM50.

PPK Malaysia was speaking of the plans to have onsite Covid-19 vaccination at shopping malls for employees of retail outlets in the malls, through a “public-private sector partnership” model.

While confirming that the Covid-19 vaccines will be provided by the Malaysian government for free under this partnership, PPK Malaysia said shopping malls will be paying for the fees for doctors, nurses and medical officers to Health Ministry-owned ProtectHealth Corporation and all other antecedent costs.

Earlier this week, notices had circulated on social media of purported plans by shopping malls to offer Covid-19 vaccination to retail tenants’ staff at RM50 per person for two doses (with some giving a breakdown of RM15 for administration per dose and RM10 for logistics per dose).

PPK Malaysia said the planned collection of RM50 was meant partly to secure commitment by retail staff to ensure that they would show up for the vaccination, as well as to pay for the services of administering the Covid-19 vaccine to be provided by the private healthcare providers coordinated by ProtectHealth Corporation.

“Our Association members estimated that the cost of providing the venue, logistics, manpower, standby ambulance service etc for the on-site vaccination centre will amount to RM100 to RM150 per pax, depending on volume and total number of doses available each day, the total population to be vaccinated and the duration to complete all the doses.

“In the interests of the national agenda, it was decided that the malls shall largely subsidise these costs and be allowed to charge merely RM10 x 2 doses = RM20 per pax to partially defray their expenses and as a commitment by the registrant so as to mitigate absenteeism, leading to wastage of vaccines which would otherwise could be administered to those yet to be scheduled and in order to reach herd immunity of the community in the shortest possible time.

“We were also informed that the doctors and nurses providing their service will be allocated by the Protect Health Corporation who will charge to administer per dose at RM15.

“Therefore, at RM15 per dose x 2 doses equalling RM30, plus the above nominal sum of RM20 to partially defray logistic expenses, a total of RM50 for 2 doses will be charged to participants, principally only our shopping frontliners,” the shopping malls association explained in a statement today.

People wearing face masks shop for groceries at the NSK in Kuala Lumpur January 9, 2021. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
People wearing face masks shop for groceries at the NSK in Kuala Lumpur January 9, 2021. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

Covid-19 vaccination urgently needed, speed is key

In the same statement, PPK Malaysia said it appreciates shopping malls for recognising the need to subsidise the Covid-19 vaccination costs for retail frontliners, in order to protect the retail industry through immunisation and as an overall corporate social responsibility (CSR) contribution towards the national agenda of urgently achieving herd immunity.

“It has been proven in several overseas countries that the speed of vaccinations is the way to bring down the rate of infections, coupled with self-discipline and strict adherence to SOPs instead of prolonging the need for further MCOs,” it said, referring to the movement control orders (MCO) in the country.

Noting that the Covid-19 vaccination for the public is being planned on a different schedule, the association said the primary purpose for the partnership with the government was to vaccinate all employees of shopping malls and malls’ business outlets, adding that it is believed that the malls would be “much safer places for the public to shop with confidence and with peace of mind” once such vaccination is carried out.

“Despite our good intentions, we are distraught with the negative comments in the media that malls are profiteering from this exercise which is extremely far from the truth,” it said, adding that this statement was issued in order to correct and put the record straight.

It noted that the “urgent need for access to vaccination” was reflected in the shopping malls’ “enthusiastic participation” and the “overwhelming registration” by mall employees and mall tenants for the proposed onsite Covid-19 vaccination at malls.

“We truly look forward to the success of this win-win collaboration with the authorities towards the national objective of achieving herd immunity urgently and the ultimate recovery of the economy in due course,” the association said.

Earlier in the statement, PPK Malaysia explained the reasoning for the idea of vaccinating mall tenants’ staff onsite at shopping malls, while also providing updates on the progress of this plan.

Citing the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (KPDNHEP) Minister Datuk Seri Alexander Nanta Linggi’s May 28 announcement of plans to vaccinate an estimated 500,000 employees in the retail industry under the country’s economic frontliners (retail sector) Covid-19 immunisation programme, PPK Malaysia said it lauded the government’s targeting of the relevant economic sectors to speed up the Covid-19 vaccination programme.

“Shopping malls together with all retail tenants’ staff are effectively frontliners and we feel that it is imperative for the vaccination exercise to be implemented expeditiously. When vaccinated, our frontliners will not only protect themselves but more importantly, duly protect the shoppers and the public.

“We are also appreciative that our proposal for on-site vaccination centres at shopping malls is adopted as it is more efficient and logical to bring the medical personnel to come on-site to administer the vaccinations instead of all the staff having to take time off work to travel to outside vaccination centres, thus interrupting business and daily operations,” PPK Malaysia said.

In the May 28 statement by the KPDNHEP minister, he too had spoken of his ministry’s cooperation with the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) for the vaccination of “economic frontliners” in the retail sector expected to start in June, and had also spoke on discussions involving CITF on the same day with 60 representatives from the retail industry.

The minister had also on May 28 spoken of his ministry’s cooperation with PPK Malaysia, the Malaysia Retailers Association (MRA), and Malaysia Retail Chain Association (MRCA) to establish Covid-19 vaccination centres (PPVs) at strategic locations nationwide, while also urging all retail companies to join this vaccination programme to help achieve the government’s target of vaccinating 80 per cent of the population before the year ends.

Today, PPK Malaysia said such an initiative in collaboration with the authorities has received “enthusiastic response” from its members malls and retailers, noting that more than 50 malls have already notified their interest to host PPVs nationwide.

“Details of this programme and the confirmed locations are being finalised and will be announced, once approved in due course, and we do look forward to the rollout by end of June 2021 onwards as scheduled,” it said, having noted that it had already had several meetings with the authorities on this public-private sector partnership for Covid-19 vaccination.

A man receives the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at the World Trade Centre Kuala Lumpur May 5, 2021. ― Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
A man receives the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at the World Trade Centre Kuala Lumpur May 5, 2021. ― Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

About ProtectHealth Corporation

On its website, ProtectHealth Corporation Sdn Bhd states that the not-for-profit company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Health Ministry’s ProtectHealth Malaysia. It further states that it was appointed by the ministry to implement the participation of private medical practitioners in the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme.

Based on information on ProtectHealth’s website, private general practitioners do not need to pay to participate in the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme, but would have to receive training and also prepare their own personal protective equipment.

The website also states that ProtectHealth would pay general practitioners RM14 for their administration of each dose of Covid-19 vaccines through clinic and community outreach models, while payment of RM45 per hour would be paid to them for Covid-19 vaccination under government-organised mass vaccination models.

ProtectHealth Corporation denied collecting payments from shopping centres purportedly rolling out Covid-19 inoculation drives with vaccinators from ProtectHealth Corp.

“ProtectHealth involvement remains the same for all vaccination centres. We pay private medical practitioners RM14 per dose administered,” Khairul Faizi from the corporate communications unit of ProtectHealth Corp told CodeBlue today.

“We don’t supply vaccines as our role is managing the private medical practitioners. The vaccine supply is done by the government, similar to other vaccination centres.”

Health news portal CodeBlue yesterday reported ProtectHealth Corporation as stating its role as merely managing the private medical practitioners carrying out Covid-19 vaccination work and that it pays RM14 per dose administered to such private healthcare personnel.

CodeBlue yesterday also reported ProtectHealth Corporation as denying collecting payments from shopping malls for Covid-19 vaccination in collaboration with the company.

 

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