Transparency, fighting misinformation are vital to vaccination programme’s success

WITH only 12% of the population registered to get the COVID-19 vaccines, the Malaysia Health Coalition (MHC) urged the Government to raise awareness of the public on the importance of getting inoculated.

“It’s time for the Government to act on it, not just talk about improving vaccine confidence among Malaysians and foreigners staying here.

“The approach must be multilingual, multiplatform and multipronged, involving community leaders of all backgrounds.

“Plus, there must be a proactive effort to improve overall science and health literacy by communicating facts in accessible terms. Higher science literacy is helpful in fighting pseudoscience, fake products and products with misleading claims,” it said, in a statement.

Offering solutions, MHC said the Government can start by making all clinical trial data submitted to the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA), for all approved COVID-19 vaccines, available to the public for scrutiny.

In addition, it also proposed that the Government establish an independent adverse event following immunisation (AEFI) review committee, that reports to NPRA and contribute to combatting misinformation.

“All data related to COVID-19 vaccines should be accessible via a central repository such as the one created by the US Centres for Disease Control.

“Finally, as the MySejahtera app is constantly being updated, users must be assured that their information protected under the Personal Data Protection Act 2010,” it stressed.

Rope in private healthcare players

On another note, MHC lauded the Government’s decision to allow private general practitioners to administer COVID-19 vaccines, particularly to the B40 communities.

With that said, the health group urged the Government to establish partnerships with private hospitals to hasten the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme.

“The Government’s aim to vaccinate 80% of the population before February 2022 is bold but achievable. It will require all public and private stakeholders, as well as individual members of our society to work together to make it happen.

“We need all hands-on deck for this programme. However, all Government agencies must maintain its independence during the rollout, and not yield to lobby and any interest groups.

“COVID-19 vaccines belong to the public and must be handled as such until all vulnerable groups in Malaysia are vaccinated first,” it remarked. – March 13, 2021

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