Phase 1 may include teachers and media personnel

PETALING JAYA: Teachers in the high-risk group and media personnel in the front line are being considered for vaccination under the first phase of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme, the government announced.

“The requests for vaccination from teachers seem reasonable and fair, seeing that schools will be opening in March, ” Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said, as the much-awaited first batch of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines arrived at Kuala Lumpur International Airport yesterday.

He said the requests would be brought to the Covid-19 task force when it meets next week.

“We will ask the Education Minister to provide us with a priority list of teacher recipients – those who have comorbidities and are at high risk of a negative outcome if they contract the virus, ” he said.

But the availability of vaccines for teachers would depend on the supply, he added.

According to Khairy, one million vaccine doses had been earmarked for some 500,000 medical and non-medical frontliners under the first phase of the country’s immunisation programme.

“We will try to accommodate teachers and some media frontliners, subject to availability of vaccine supply but also based on risk assessment, ” he added.

The minister also disclosed that the vaccination programme would remain voluntary, pending further consideration on the number of those vaccinated.

On the possibility of providing insurance coverage for those receiving the vaccine, Khairy said that the government would introduce a scheme for those who suffer any serious side effect due to the vaccines.

“We will start a scheme where those who suffer serious side effects are given ex-gratia payments, ” he said.

On the vaccination for undocumented foreign workers, Khairy said talks were being held with the UNHCR, which is the UN refugee agency, NGOs and civil society groups to ensure that this was done to ensure herd immunity in the country.

Khairy assured that illegals who came forward to receive vaccinations would not be detained by the authorities.

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