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Is PN committed to vaccinating our senior citizens quickly, especially those in rural areas?

Press Statement
22nd May 2021

What is the government’s commitment to vaccinate 3.5 million senior citizens in Malaysia? How do we ensure that the grandmas and grandpas living in rural areas are not left behind in the vaccination programme?

These are the two burning questions I have in mind for Vaccine Minister Khairy Jamaluddin and Health Minister Datuk Seri Adham Baba amidst the surging Covid-19 pandemic crisis in Malaysia.

A month has passed since our second phase of the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme (NCIP) started on 19 April 2021. Within a month, 978,444 doses of Covid-19 vaccine were administered to our population nationwide, out of which 602,292 were given as the first dose. In Johor, 84,404 doses were administered in total whilst 44,326 people received their first dose (see below).

TARIKHBilangan DOS 1Bilangan DOS 2Jumlah Dos 1+Dos 2
19 Apr 2021   726,411451,2371,177,648
29 Mei 20211,328,703827,3892,156,092
Perbezaan   602,292376,152   978,444

Table 1: Total number of Covid-19 vaccine doses that have been administered nationwide since Phase 2 started on 19 April 2021

TARIKHBilangan DOS 1Bilangan DOS 2Jumlah Dos 1+Dos 2
19 Apr 2021   70,99933,416104,415
29 Mei 2021115,32573,494188,819
Perbezaan   44,32640,078   84,404

Table 2: Total number of Covid-19 vaccine doses that have been administered in Johore since Phase 2 started on 19 April 2021

Within a month too, we lost 710 lives.

Source: JKJAV

A lot has been said about the slow pace of vaccination. We know limited vaccine supplies is a major constraint. Yet, we cannot deny that people are getting anxious and even losing patience as positive cases hit new record highs everyday. More families are losing their loved ones, often the seniors, to the disease.

Among the senior citizens, many have registered way since February and have been waiting patiently for their turn to get vaccinated. These are our parents and grandparents, our uncles and aunties, our neighbours and friends who really want to be protected. Among them, many have co-morbidities that make it even more dangerous if they do not get vaccinated.

According to the report by the Department of Statistics in 2020, Malaysia only has about 2.1 million people aged 65 and above. Another 1.3 to 1.4 million people are between the age of 60 to 64. This means altogether, we have no more than 3.5 million senior citizens (defined as aged 60 and above according to the government’s definition), which is about 10% to 11% of our current population.

1. Establish clear target with firm timeline plan to protect our seniors

I believe we have secured sufficient doses of vaccines, at least for the senior citizens. For those who have registered but are still waiting in queue, we must set a firm target and execute a plan to get all of them vaccinated as soon as possible.

I call upon Minister Khairy Jamaluddin to publicly announce and commit to a clear vaccination target with a firm timeline for all our senior citizens. The authorities must provide daily updates on the numbers and percentage of senior citizens already vaccinated, those who are still waiting in queue, and those who remain unregistered. Publish the detailed breakdown according to age groups (i.e. 60 – 64, 65 – 69, 70 – 74, 75-79, 80 and above) and geographical distribution (i.e. state, respective districts, and mukims).

2. Leaving no seniors in the rural area behind

In Johor, I recently received feedback from young people who claimed that their parents, some in their late 70s and even 80s, are still waiting in anxiety for the notification of their first vaccine appointment. These are kampung folks living in rural areas like Bekok (Labis), Benut (Pontian), and Rengit (Batu Pahat) that are located only 30 minutes away from the nearest major town.

Why does it seem that the datuks and neneks in kampungs are getting the vaccines a lot later than those of the same age cohort in major towns? At the same time, allegations of much younger people with low risk profiles cutting queues have begun to emerge from a number of places. These are deeply concerning.

The constituencies both YB Khairy Jamaluddin and YB Adham Baba represent in Parliament are respectively Rembau and Tenggara, comprising of a mainly rural population. As the vaccination programme ramps up in June and July (as promised by the government), how do we ensure the rural folks are not being left behind? I call upon both Ministers to provide answers to the above.

It is our duty to all of our senior citizens, regardless of who they are and where they live – to get them the Covid-19 vaccines now. We must campaign vigorously to secure their rights and protect lives.

Tan Hong Pin
ADUN for Skudai

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