KUALA LUMPUR ，Mar 8– Private hospitals nationwide are willing to assist the government in its inoculation exercise by disseminating the Covid-19 vaccine free of charge.
This is for vaccines procured by the government with private hospitals appointed as implementers in giving the free jabs.
Private Hospitals Malaysia Association (APHM) president Datuk Dr Kuljit Singh told The Vibes that even in the event hospitals are allowed to procure the vaccine, they will be administered at the cost of procurement.
“We will not impose any surcharge for the inoculation.
“We will buy on demand, whatever the cost, and that is the only amount people will have to pay as we are not out to make any profit.”
A total of 146 private hospitals are members of APHM, while 64 are non-members.
Dr Kuljit said the government needs to understand that the aim of private hospitals in the current scenario is to partner with it to disseminate the vaccine as soon as possible.
“It will also give a chance to people who require the vaccine earlier to be inoculated as soon as possible due to their increased interaction with others or obligations of business, work or religion that require them to travel overseas.
“Those who are willing to pay for the vaccine will give space to others awaiting the free vaccination.”
He was commenting on a recent statement by Deputy Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Ahmad Amzad Hashim that the private sector may be allowed to buy the vaccine after herd immunity is achieved.
“It has come to my realisation that people do not understand the concept of herd immunity.”
This is because it does not make sense for private hospitals to step in and assist in the vaccination drive only after 80%, or 26.5 million, of the population, including foreigners, have been inoculated, he added.
“We do not intend to get in the way of the government’s National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme, but it will make sense for us to come in only during Phase 2 of the vaccination drive, which is in June.”
Malaysia kicked off the first of the programme’s three phases on February 24 – with Phase 1 taking place from February to April, involving 500,000 frontliners.
Phase 2, from April to August, will involve some 9.4 million people from those aged 65 and above, as well as members of high-risk groups and persons with disabilities.
Phase 3, from May this year to February next year, will cover both Malaysians and non-citizens aged 18 and above, targeting more than 13.7 million people.
Dr Kuljit said the government should not worry about the limited global supply of Covid-19 vaccines as the shortage will be reversed in the second and third quarters of this year.
Germany’s Standing Committee on Vaccination head, Thomas Mertens, was quoted as saying in Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper that it is during the second and third quarters that the shortage will be reversed so much that vaccine centres will no longer be able to keep up with supplies.
Dr Kuljit said if private hospitals are allowed to purchase the vaccines directly, they will obtain those that are not procured by the government.
These include vaccines manufactured by Johnson & Johnson, which, despite being slightly more expensive, is showing protection across countries with different variants.
“Then again, we will procure only vaccines approved by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency.” – The Vibes