PETALING JAYA,Jan 18: The government has the power under emergency laws to make Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory for everyone, a lawyer said today.
A Srimurugan told FMT that the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance provides the power for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to “issue directions for treatment, immunisation, isolation, observation or surveillance”.
If compulsory vaccinations were ordered, a person who failed to take the vaccine could be found guilty and face penalties of jail terms of up to two years or be fined or both; with increased penalties for subsequent offences or continuing offences.
However, he said those who think they will have adverse side effects from the vaccine must be allowed to consult and obtain proper advice.
Former deputy health minister Dr Lee Boon Chye said fears over vaccination was a real problem, especially with the Covid-19 vaccines because they were developed at unprecedented speed.
However, he said the vaccination process would be conducted according to the proper guidelines listed by the manufacturers.
“At the moment, a certain group of people are excluded from vaccination. These include children, pregnant women, people with a history of allergy, and people who have an immune deficiency problem,” he said.
Lee also raised concerns about plans for “herd immunity” among the people, saying it would be hard to reach that status in the country because it required 70% of the population to be vaccinated.
“At the moment, those deemed unsuitable for the vaccine, such as children and pregnant women, exceeds 30% of the population.
“Furthermore, even though the vaccine can protect one from getting infected with Covid-19 after being exposed to the virus, we are not certain if it can prevent transmission,” he said.
The World Health Organization has sought to allay fears about the effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, saying it has met the organisation’s “must-have” safety and efficacy criteria.
An official of WHO said the benefits of using the vaccine to address Covid-19 outweighed the potential risks.