ADUN SPEAKS | It is claimed that Malaysia has administered at least 3.6 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines so far. As every person needs two doses, this makes up about 5.7 percent of the population. Currently, the vaccination rate is about 70,000 doses administered per day.
At this rate, it will take about 92 days to vaccinate about 10 percent of the population. In order to achieve herd immunity of 80 percent of the population, it will take about two years, which we can ill-afford. Therefore, there is an urgent need to increase the vaccination rate per day. Even if we increase the vaccination rate to 100,000 per day, it will take 17 months to reach the herd immunity.
Therefore, to increase the vaccination rate, the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) must increase the procurement of vaccines and then disburse them to more centres that are nearer to the people. Vaccines must be sent to hospitals, government clinics, and even private medical clinics located in small towns.
People in every town and village must have easy access to vaccination centres and not made to travel long distances to reach these centres. The CITF has said that by July, 200,000 doses will be administered and 300,000 by August. It said that by opening more mega vaccine administration centres (PPV), the government will be able to administer more vaccines. More details are needed to verify this claim.
To illustrate the point, let’s look at Segamat in Johor. Segamat district is located in north Johor. The district has three parliamentary and six state constituencies. However, it has only one vaccination centre in Segamat town.
People from Labis, Chaah and Bekok are 40km to 60km away from Segamat where the vaccination centre is located. Residents who are a long way from Segamat will find it very difficult to come for their vaccination. There are also residents from Labis who were told to go to the vaccination centre in Johor Bharu! Similarly, in other districts in Johor, vaccination centres are in the main towns, which are far away from the rural folks.
But, there are government clinics in every small town in all these districts. They have doctors and other medical facilities that can be converted into vaccination centres readily. This can be very convenient for the rural residents since the centres are located near them. The vaccines must reach people who are elderly and who are staying in rural areas.
Vaccination centres set up in shopping complexes and big halls in the main towns will be inaccessible to the elderly in semi-rural and rural areas. Therefore, there is an urgent need to convert one section of government clinics and hospitals in small towns into vaccination centres.
These medical centres have their own medical personnel, support staff and other facilities that can make vaccination much easier. To increase the reach further, local private clinics can also be included for vaccination purposes.
Besides, when vaccination centres are readily accessible to the B40 group and the rural old folks, they will have less hesitation about getting inoculated. In fact, there will be widespread acceptance. By increasing vaccination centres located nearer to people, it is possible to reach the targeted herd immunity of 80 percent sooner.
S RAMAKRISHNAN is the Bekok assemblyperson.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.