COVID-19 vaccines: The freedom to choose, or to leave it all to chance?

By Bernie Yeo


SCIENCE, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin recently said that Malaysians will not be able to choose which vaccine they want as it would be “a big logistical nightmare.”

Rather, the vaccines will be allocated according to the Government’s mapping plan, based on their storage requirements and the vaccination centres identified by the health ministry.

It is a given because the vaccines are given free to Malaysians, thus, it only makes sense that people at the receiving end of it do not get to cherry-pick the ones they want.

Beggars, as they say, cannot be choosers.

But here’s a curious question: why can’t people be given the option of choosing their preferred brand of vaccine rather than rolling a metaphorical dice and leaving it all to chance? This is especially if they already have a specific brand of vaccine in mind, and are actually willing to pay for the vaccine of their choice.

Despite repeated assurances that any vaccine registered by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) is safe, certain people may have certain ideas or opinions about the pharmaceutical products that come from a specific country.

The news that they will not get to choose the vaccines that they want is, needless to say, a bitter pill to swallow.

In fact, if done right, people who are willing to pay for their vaccines may even have the potential of easing the Government’s financial woes in the long run.

And so, rather than not giving people a choice as to which vaccine they are going to get, wouldn’t it be better to say, “If you’re willing to pay for it, then why not?” – Feb 25, 2021

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