THE Government should categorise teachers as frontliners and be given priority to receive the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines when it arrives end of the month.
“Such a measure would ensure our schoolchildren will have a safe environment and ensure the stability of our education ecosystem.
“We must understand that our schools involve various stakeholders including parents, families and the community at large,” said the Malaysian Pharmacists Society (MPS) and National Parent-Teachers Association (PIBGN), in a joint statement.
The statement was signed by MPS president Amrahi Buang and PIBGN president Datuk Mohamad Ali Hasan.
Three days ago, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced that vaccines will be distributed for free under the National COVID-19 Immunisation programme, in three phases.
The first phase of inoculation will involve the 500,000 frontliners; medical officers and non-medical personnel, starting this month and ending in April.
The second phase involves high-risk groups such as senior citizens, those above 60 years of age, those who suffer from pre-existing medical conditions and the disabled community, which will start from April until August.
“As for the third phase, from May until February 2021, it will involve all those above the age of 18, to create herd immunity and contain the pandemic,” Muhyiddin was reported saying.
Touching on the matter, Amrahi outlined seven reasons on why teachers should be vaccinated under the first phase, which are:
- As the vaccination does not include those under the age of 18, the students must be protected by inoculating their teachers.
- It will help create herd immunity in Malaysia faster.
- Teaching and learning has been severely hampered by the movement control order (MCO). By vaccinating teachers under the first phase, schooling can resume as usual.
- As the pandemic is lurking within the community, people will have to learn to live with the virus, as just like other diseases such as dengue and influenza. Vaccinating teachers will help everyone to return to normalcy.
- COVID-19 clusters involving schools are at a minimum compared to workplaces and construction sites. Therefore, inoculating teachers will create a layer of protection for schoolchildren.
- Parents will be less anxious about their children and teachers’ safety.
- By getting vaccinated, teachers will have the confidence to go back to schools, instead worrying about infecting their students.
On related matter, the National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) welcomed the suggestion, adding they have been raising the matter to the Government for quite some time now.
“Even the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef) has called for Governments across the globe to include teachers as frontliners,” its president Aminuddin Awang told FocusM.
He said the idea made sense as the Government has no plans to vaccinate those under the age of 18 for the time being.
With that, Aminuddin added, about 30% of the population would not be receiving the vaccines, hence the need to protect teachers’ health so they would not risk their students during school sessions.
“With that, I urge the Government to vaccinate teachers above the age of 50 years first, due to the risks involved, before inoculating educators below the age category,” he opined. – Feb 7, 2021.