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Ramp up vaccination in Tawau, MP Liew tells Federal Government

KUALA LUMPUR: Walk the talk to translate the target of vaccinating 80pc of the adult population into reality under the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK), said Tawau MP Datuk Christina Liew.

She said the Special Meeting of the Third Session of the 14th Parliament heard that many Malaysians who registered for vaccination in February this year, have yet to get their appointment dates.

“Like other MPs, I was scheduled to speak in the Dewan Rakyat last Thursday (July 29), but (unfortunately) did not get to do so due to the fiasco following the disclosure of the Istana Negara’s statement (Royal rebuke).

“On that day, the debate session was postponed three times and then further adjourned to Monday (Aug 2). But now, this final day of the five-day special meeting has been postponed until further notice.

“We have heard so much about the Federal Government buying and paying for COVID-19 vaccines, but these are still not enough when deployed to Sabah in general, and Tawau in particular.

“Please walk the talk about the pledge to strengthen the public health system and national vaccination programme,” she said in a statement on Tuesday.

Liew, who is also Api Api Assemblywoman, was commenting on Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz’s speech in Parliament that it is most important now to intensify efforts to vaccinate at least 80pc of the adult population nationwide, when giving a briefing on the economic assistance packages last Thursday.

“I concur that the national vaccination programme is the key to success of the National Recovery Plan (PPN). To make the 80pc target achievable, the Federal Government must be seen to be serious about wanting to ramp up the vaccination exercise in the country (including Sabah). 

“COVID-19 infections are now at their peak with more than 16,000 new cases reported daily. Almost 9,000 deaths have been reported in Malaysia since the pandemic began last year,” she lamented.

According to covidvax.live for Malaysia, only 22pc of the population have completed their vaccinations.

In this regard, Liew wished to draw the  Federal Government’s attention to the low rate of vaccination registration and administration in Tawau due to the shortage of COVID-19 vaccines. “Thousands are still waiting for their vaccination appointment dates. I urge the Government to immediately deploy additional supplies of the vaccines to Tawau to boost the poor rate of vaccination.”

Quoting statistics from the Tawau Covid-10 ImmunisationTask Force, she said Tawau has a population of more than 400,000, and of the 362,000 people eligible to receive the vaccines, only 104,250 people have registered for vaccination. This translates to only 28.80 per cent of the total eligible for vaccination. (The Tawau Parliamentary People’s Service Centre alone registered some 4,018 people).

“And of the 362,000 people eligible for vaccination, only 75,636 have received the vaccine shots as of Tuesday (July 27)(first dose – 48,882, second dose – 26,754). This registers only 20.89 per cent of the total eligible for vaccination, which means 28,614 people out of the 104,250 people registered for vaccination, have yet to receive their doses,” Liew pointed out.


Against this scenario, coupled with the fact that there are only three vaccination administration centres (PPV), one each in Tawau, Balung and Merotai, the Tawau MP suggested that one more PPV be set up (in the Apas state constituency).


Given the vast extent of the Tawau parliamentary constituency which covers the state constituencies of Sri Tanjung, Apas and Balung, Liew reiterated her call to the Government to provide transport to take vaccine recipients to the Vaccination Administration Centre (PPV). This service, she said, is necessary, particularly for residents living in remote villages.


“While visiting my constituents, I found that lack of transport is among the key factors for the low rate of vaccination in Tawau.

The villagers have absolutely no means of going to the vaccination administration centre (PPV).”To my knowledge, in neighbouring countries like Singapore, the Government provides transport such as taxis to send urban vaccine recipients to the PPV although the latter are living in the city. What’s more for those living in the outskirts or rural areas,” Liew said.


On a related matter, she called on the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK) Coordinating Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin to quickly announce the guidelines for undocumented immigrants to receive COVID-10 vaccine shots.


“This is especially important in the context of Sabah in general, and Tawau in particular, where the presence of a large number of illegal immigrants (PTI) or undocumented people is a cause for concern.


“I urge the Federal Government to give a clear direction on COVID-19 vaccination for the migrant population. We need to address this issue as soon as possible to curb the pandemic as there is a substantial number of these people working in the plantations, construction industry, coffee shops and restaurants, or as house maids,” the Tawau MP pointed out.


Liew, who had earlier raised this concern with the relevant authorities, further contended that if the illegal immigrants happen to be carriers of the coronavirus, they invariably pose a health danger with the potential to infect the local populace.

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