Dr Syed Hussain felt that such workers’ living and working environments, due to close proximity, pose a greater threat to spreading COVID-19.
When Malaysia’s Program lmunisasi lndustri COVID-19 Kerjasama Awam-Swasta (PIKAS) was announced (12 June) as part of phase four of the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK), vaccination priority was first given to those in the manufacturing sector.
While supporting the roll-out of PIKAS for certain manufacturers, MEF President Dato’ Dr Syed Hussain Syed Husman has recommended that PIKAS must be expanded to all 17 essential sectors, especially those with a large workforce that live in centralised accommodation.
As it stands, implementation of PIKAS will begin on 16 June 2021 with on-site vaccination drives at designated factories and industrial locations. Currently, companies prioritised in PIKAS will be those in:
- Electrical and electronics;
- Food processing;
- Iron and steel;
- Medical devices;
- Personal protective equipment (PPE);
- Oil and gas and rubber products, including medical glove manufacturing sub-sectors
“If our aim,” the president reiterated, “is to achieve herd immunity and prevent the spread of infection, then all industries with large number of workers, such as the construction sector, must also be included immediately.”
This is because their living and working environment, due to close proximity, pose a greater threat to spreading COVID-19. Thus, fast implementation of PIKAS in manufacturing sector, and beyond, is pivotal, in his view.
Dr Hussain added that employers from other sectors of the economy are, in fact, eager to participate in the PIKAS, and they mustn’t be neglected.
“Companies allowed to operate during the MCO would want to ensure that all their employees are protected from Covid-19 and many are keen to participate in the PIKAS.”
With regard to PIKAS’ terms and conditions, Dr Hussain noted that the costs for vaccination to be borne by the employer is approximated to be RM45, which he shared is “reasonable and acceptable”.
However, he cautioned: “Employers must not be allowed to pass on the costs to the employees, however the government should consider giving tax rebate, or tax exemption to companies on the costs incurred by the companies that participate in the voluntary programme.”
To date, it is understood that the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) has received applications from approximately 500 companies, with a total of 106,591 workers to voluntarily participate in PIKAS.