Press Statement By Irene Chang:
SDMC and the State Health Department (JKNS) should update the people of Sibu on when shall phase 2 of Covid immunisation programme in respect of the senior citizens resume in Sibu. In the recent news report, Dr Sim Hui Kian had expressed his concerns that the supplies of the vaccines in the state may surpass the number of registrations for the vaccine by July. This gives the people an impression that there is an adequate supply of available vaccine. If that is the case, SDMC and JKNS should send in the supplies to Sibu for us to resume with our immunisation programme where there are still many people who have registered but who are still waiting. I understand that so far, only about 8,800 plus persons in Sibu (including frontliners) have been vaccinated.
The immunisation programme was abruptly stopped when JKNS had purportedly failed to deliver the promised supplies of vaccines to Sibu on the 2 nd day of the programme on 20 th April and which had led to the cancellation of the scheduled vaccination date. SDMC and JKN should make sure that this would never happen again as the fiasco has left many senior citizens from the high risk groups from Lanang Health Clinic and Oya Health Clinic highly disappointed and frustrated.
Since Sibu has the highest rate of registration for the vaccination of about 80% of her population, has the highest mortality rate from Covid-19 in the State and is constantly in the top 3 with the most daily positive cases, SDMC and JKNS should make sure that Sibu gets her vaccine supplies promptly so that the immunisation programme may continue and be rolled out as soon as possible.
This is crucial in the fight against Covid-19 because if all those who have registered in Sibu should get their due vaccination without any delay, it is possible that Sibu may achieve the herd immunity first and the rest of Sarawak would follow suit sooner or later. This is a race against time as the virus is constantly mutating and each mutated variant has shown signs of greater transmissibility.
On another note, I urge SDMC and the State Government to update Sarawakians on the status of procurement for the vaccine by Sarawak herself. Since the approval has been given to the State to go ahead with discussion on the purchases with the vaccine suppliers, the Covid-19 Advisory Group (SCOVAG) under the State Government should reveal what is the procurement mechanism and system to be adopted by the state and whether there is any condition to be attached to the agreement by the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme and/or Federal Government in allowing Sarawak to purchase our own vaccines. Since normally countries which procure their vaccines directly from their suppliers have complete autonomy over the vaccine selection, pricing and delivery process and so forth, would Sarawak be accorded the same autonomy in the place of Malaysia with the suppliers?
Any purchase of our own vaccine would invariably involve a huge chunk of our state revenue. The state government should therefore ensure that the mechanism chosen would be transparent and would guarantee that Sarawakians would receive the vaccines at affordable prices and in a timely manner so as to optimise the immunization programme performance.