Malaysia has promised to get tough with those who refuse to take the Covid-19 vaccines without a valid reason.
“Sorry to say, we will make life very difficult for you if you’re not vaccinated by choice,” health minister Khairy Jamaluddin said at an event in Serdang Hospital on 16 October, The Straits Times reported.
“If you choose not to vaccinate, then we will probably ask you to do regular tests that you have to pay for,” he said.
A plan under the National Testing Strategy, which will be unveiled next week, will explain the actions that Malaysia will take against those who are not vaccinated.
Mr Jamaluddin warned that the government’s rules will go beyond imposing restrictions for dining out or visiting shopping centers. Vaccine mandates will be expanded beyond the education sector to include the entire public sector, where civil servants will also need to be vaccinated. Private sector employees may also soon face specific rules, he said.
“Although Malaysia is unlikely to mandate vaccination at the national level, it is seriously looking at sectoral mandates,” the health minister said.
Malaysia has recorded a total of 2,390,687 Covid-19 cases and 27,921 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.
According to data till 17 October, 69.7 per cent of Malaysia’s adult population has been fully vaccinated, while over 77 per cent of the population has received one dose. In addition to this, 5,410 booster doses have been given to frontline medical workers, and senior citizens will soon start receiving them, Mr Jamaluddin said in a tweet last week.
Mr Jamaluddin said the government has explained and will continue to stress on the effectiveness of vaccines. “I am sorry that I have to be firm on this issue,” he said.
Those who cannot get vaccinated can get exemptions from the Health Ministry’s MySejahtera app, he added. Mr Jamaluddin added that the ministry will soon start taking applications for those who need booster shots to travel to other countries.
Malaysia has granted conditional approval for Pfizer BioNTech’s booster shot earlier this month for those who are double vaccinated.
The heath minister’s statement came just days after prime minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob urged Malaysians to get the jab.
Though coronavirus vaccination is not compulsory in Malaysia, unvaccinated individuals will lose out on many privileges, including praying at mosques, dining out and going for Umrah as Saudi Arabia only allows vaccinated individuals for the short pilgrimage to Mecca, the prime minister said.