By John Isaac
THE government should fully utilise the Community Communications Department (J-Kom) for more awareness campaigns and incentives to increase vaccine registrations.
This should be done especially among the high-risk and vulnerable groups in areas with low registrations all around the country, said Bandar Kuching MP, Dr Kelvin Yii.
Since being allocated RM40.5 million in the current Budget, the public demands transparency on what has J-Kom achieved and what role it has played in pushing for greater vaccine registrations.
“Based on official data released by the Special Committee on Covid-19 Vaccine Supply Access Guarantee (JKJAV), the current nationwide total registration only stands at 40 per cent though we are halfway through Phase 2 and scheduled to enter final Phase 3 soon.
“If we go into a more micro-level, we see even lower registrations in different States including Sabah at 16.10%, Kelantan 26.7%, Pahang 31.50%, and Terengganu 32.40%.
“Such figures are worrying especially if we intend to reach a target 80% herd immunity by end of the year,” he said.
While the current bottleneck for the slow rate of vaccination is vaccine supply, what must be done right now is to boost registration among the people so once the vaccine supply comes, demand will be higher than supply.
Dr Kelvin said the government must be pro-active and should be looking at the issue from a granular and micro-level by identifying districts, sub-district and even communities that have low registrations.
He said the government cannot be merely releasing generic campaign materials and hoping those hesitant will sign up eventually.
“The government should also take the extra step of identifying high-risk groups based on data available in public and private hospitals including Peka B40 data and pro-actively approaching them to register them or even vaccinate them on the spot,” he said.
Also, he said recent development revealed that the use of Pfeizer-Biontech has been authorised in Canada for use on children aged between 12-15 years. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to authorise its use among children in that age group as early as next week.
“Our Government should also be pro-active to create awareness now to promote registration among children in our country once it is also approved by the NPRA,” said Dr Kelvin.
This is important as 30% of our population is below 18 years old and to achieve herd immunity, this is an important group that we must protect especially if we want to see a more comprehensive re-opening of schools.
With all the government machinery at their disposal including J-Kon, the information department and many others, their main priority should be this and not other political messaging or communications.
“As we wait for the arrival of more vaccine supply, the government must double efforts and be proactive in pushing registration rates and allaying concerns raised to make sure we achieve 80% herd immunity as fast as possible for the good of the people and the country,” added the MP.