Perikatan Nasional (PN) Federal Government has failed to ensure adequate and sufficient supply of Covid-19 vaccine to Sabah. Several vaccination centres throughout Sabah had to be temporarily shut down and appointments fixed postponed to a later date.
At least two vaccination centre or Pusat Pemberian Vaksin (PPV) in the Tawau district had to be closed due to shortage of vaccine. The Dewan IPG Balung PPV will be shut down from 28 June till 4 July, and that the Tawau Community Hall PPV shall be closed on 2 July.
In the Kota Kinabalu district, the Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) PPV had to be shut down for several days from 28 June and will only reopen on 5 July. The latest is PPV Dewan Sri Putatan in Putatan which is disturbed at all first jab appointments until further notice.
Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Hajiji Noor had been reported earlier this month that he estimates 30,000 jabs daily in July, and that herd immunity could be achieved by the end of the year in Sabah by inoculating up to 80% of the population in Sabah.
How to achieve that number of 30,000 jabs daily when even the UMS PPV which with capacity to administer up to 1000 jabs a day, has to stop operation for an entire week only after two weeks in operation?
Having to reschedule an appointment fixed on MySejahtera will certainly not go down well with the people, especially after they have waited for so long and have made plans for the day such as taking leave from work, arranging for transportation and accompaniment for those who are disabled or are elderly.
The Sabah Chief Minister ought to rethink his decision for Sabah to not purchase any vaccine supply and rely entirely on the Federal Government.
It is unwise for Hajiji to put all eggs in one basket and rely entirely on the Federal Government. Whilst the Federal Government may promise a certain number of vaccines to be delivered at a certain period of time, but there may be delay in the supply chain and logistical issues and that the vaccines promised may not arrive on time, not due to anyone’s fault. This is already happening and affecting the people in Sabah from KK all the way to Tawau.
Hajiji should start sourcing spare supplies of vaccine from a different source to prevent any delay in his plan to achieve herd immunity in Sabah by the end of the year.
MOSTI Minister Khairy Jamaluddin had pointed fingers at larger and more developed countries in Europe for allegedly hoarding vaccines to the detriment of developing countries. Sabahans, similarly, may come to the same conclusion that Peninsula Malaysia has been hoarding vaccine to the detriment of Sabahan by pointing at data showing that only 9.1% of Sabahans have been given their first dose of vaccine as compared to an average of 15.1% nationwide. It is such an irresistible conclusion.
To be fair to Minister Khairy, I intend to believe that no favouritism is happening, but it is important for the Federal Government ensure timely and adequate supply to Sabah so as to rebut any allegations of favouritism between Peninsula Malaysia and the territories in Borneo.
The only way out of the vicious cycle of lockdowns and the only way to win over Covid-19 is by way of vaccination of the masses. Whilst achieving herd immunity and eradicating Covid-19 is hard, but we nevertheless should continue to work towards that aim. To ensure a consistent reliable adequate supply of vaccine is what Sabahans deserve in this critical point of time.
* CHAN FOONG HIN is Member of Parliament for Kota Kinabalu