Don’t send wrong message on Covid-19 vaccine, expert tells Health Ministry

A top health expert has urged the Health Ministry to ensure it is clear in its communication concerning the Covid-19 vaccination.

Former Health deputy director-general Datuk Dr Christopher Lee was responding to postings on MyHEALTH’s Twitter and Facebook accounts today that said those with low immune systems, including HIV patients, cannot receive the Covid-19 vaccine.

MyHEALTH is a health education portal developed by the ministry. This is in addition to the ministry’s official social media platforms.

Asked if the communication among the various departments within the ministry should be in tandem before it is made public, Dr Lee said: “I agree.”

“We reached out to the Health Ministry (to get more information on the blunder). The posts have already been deleted,” added Dr Lee, who is Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC) president.

The MyHEALTH postings, accompanied by Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba’s picture, came under fire before they were removed.

It remains unclear if the postings were vetted by officials from the ministry before they were made public.

The blunder comes two days before Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah and four frontliners are scheduled to receive the Covid-19 vaccine. Muhyiddin will be the first Malaysian to receive the jab.

The social media postings by MyHEALTH contradict the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) charter which states Covid-19 vaccines are believed to be safe for most people, including people living with HIV.

In Malaysia, 77,903 people live with HIV – 66,639 being men aged 15 and above; 11,233 are women aged 15 and above; and 301 children.

Last week, Dr Noor Hisham said those with weak immune systems, including cancer patients, would be placed on the Covid-19 vaccine priority list.

Separately, Dr Lee in a statement urged the government to have guidelines that prioritise those with underlying conditions such as HIV to receive the Covid-19 vaccine.

“Until further evidence shows otherwise, there should not be any discouragement for people living with HIV to be vaccinated against Covid-19 as it has shown that people with underlying medical illness, including those with advanced HIV, may be more susceptible to developing severe diseases if infected.”

Here’s the round-up of The News Normal today.

HIGH-RISK TEACHERS MAY GET VACCINE FIRST

The Education Ministry will prioritise high-risk teachers to receive the Covid-19 vaccine if the request for them to be included in the first phase recipients starting on Wednesday, is approved.

Deputy Education Minister I Muslimin Yahaya said the ministry was in discussions with the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry for teachers to be considered as recipients of the first phase vaccine as the school session begins next month.

Separately, National Union of the Teaching Profession secretary-general Harry Tan thanked the government for considering teachers to be among the first in the country to receive the vaccine.

“As schools will reopen in March, this shows the government sees education as an important sector,” he said.

SPM EXAMS BEGIN

Over 400,000 students finally sat for their Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) 2020 examinations today.

The examinations were supposed to be held late last year but were postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The first paper they sat for was Bahasa Melayu Paper 1.

ASTRO TO PRODUCE BEHIND-THE-SCENES DOCUSERIES ON KLUFC

Astro and Kuala Lumpur United Football Club (KLUFC) today announced a behind-the-scenes docuseries to follow the team through the upcoming Malaysian Super League.

The series will launch later in the year on Astro with selected content available for KLUFC fans and the public.

The cameras will be inside the training facilities, on the pitch and in the dressing room during matchday, with close-up access to its players, coaches, and the working staff of the club.

TIME TO RID MALAYSIA OF CULTURAL AND RELIGIOUS BIGOTRY

For the sake of the nation and future generations, we must rid ourselves of cultural and religious bigots, charlatans and those who manipulate our differences to serve their nefarious agenda, writes Professor Emeritus Datuk Dr Mohamed Ghouse Nasuruddin.

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