PETALING JAYA,Jan 18: The government has no plans to make the Covid-19 vaccinations compulsory, science, technology and innovation minister Khairy Jamaluddin said today, adding it will be a voluntary exercise.
He was responding to concerns raised by some quarters that the government can make it mandatory under emergency laws.
“Our policy remains, that is, for now it is voluntary,” he told FMT.
Khairy had repeatedly stressed that Covid-19 vaccination will not be compulsory in Malaysia. The first batch of vaccines is expected to arrive next month.
On Tuesday, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, gave his consent for a nationwide emergency until Aug 1 to curb the Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking to FMT, lawyer A Srimurugan said the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance provides the power for the King to “issue directions for treatment, immunisation, isolation, observation or surveillance”.
If vaccinations are to be compulsory, a person who fails to get vaccinated could face jail terms of up to two years, be fined, or both.
Section 11(3) of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act also allows the government to make it mandatory for people to receive “treatment or immunisation”.
There have been concerns that vaccination can be harmful for those with medical conditions and the elderly.
Norway last week said Covid-19 vaccinations may be too risky for the very old and terminally sick after 23 people who fell under these categories died shortly after receiving the vaccine.
Meanwhile, in Germany, specialists are looking into the deaths of 10 people aged between 79 and 93, all with medical conditions, who died shortly after receiving the vaccine, some within hours.