In as much as it is necessary to assure the public of the safety and efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccines, it is also important that its immunization programme be efficient, transparent and equitable.
Recent reports of VIPs jumping the vaccination queue has raised some eyebrows. How did this happen?
More importantly, who are those who cut the queue? It is not difficult to find out who jumped the queue. This will not go down well on the ground. These people should be named and exposed.
On the question of whether or not private clinics should be allowed to offer vaccination to their patients, the main consideration should be whether or not this will complement the Government’s vaccination programme.
Here, speed is of the essence. If the private hospitals can supplement Government efforts to facilitate faster immunisation, it should not be a problem.
Private clinics are not always profit-motivated. Private doctors have also taken the Hippocratic oath of ethics.
If they want to assist the government in speeding up the process of vaccination it should be welcomed. Speed is now of the essence. The faster it is, the safer it will be for all as more people are vaccinated.
Concern has been expressed that allowing private clinics and hospitals to offer vaccinations when there is a shortage of vaccines will exacerbate the problem.
But we don’t have to be overly concerned. The shortage is only temporary. Soon, supply will catch up with demand.
On the question of priority, it has been reported that the vaccination programme targets the frontliners, other doctors and nurses, and those above the age of 60. Perhaps this priority queue could be further refined to place those in their 90s first, and then those in their 80’s and then the 70’s.
That will be a more equitable system.
On the question of transparency, perhaps there could be a daily TV item that gives the latest numbers and other information on the vaccination progress, just as the Ministry of Health gives daily statistics on the Covid-19 situation.
This will allay any suspicion of queue jumping, if in the announcements, a breakdown is given of the number of vaccinations a day, how many front liners, and how many elderly, and so on.
This way, public confidence in the vaccination programme will be further enhanced.
Confidence in the vaccine must be matched by confidence in the immunization programme. They are two sides of the same spectrum.
Confidence building is very essential to achieve the herd immunity and serious efforts must be undertaken by the Government in this direction. Equally important there must be a massive public relations exercise involving NGOs and the community to engage the fence-sitters and the unconvinced.
TAN SRI LEE LAM THYE
ALLIANCE FOR SAFE COMMUNITY.