Transparency on safety of COVID-19 vaccine vital to avoid public confusion

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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 1 — The government’s transparency in giving clear explanation to the public on the safety of COVID-19 vaccine is vital in ensuring the success of the efforts to end the pandemic.

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President of the Malaysian Association of Public Health Physicians Datuk Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar said this was because it could prevent public confusion over statements from the anti-vaccine movement.

“Any vaccine must have undergone a series of clinical test, especially in developed countries. To say that those receiving the vaccine are merely lab rats is not true.

“Such confusing information will not do any good to those who need the vaccine, especially senior citizens and the high-risk groups,” he told Bernama.

Dr Zainal Ariffin said the non-governmental organisations (NGO) also played an important role in helping the government to disseminate correct and authentic information about the vaccine to the public.

Spreading false information about the vaccine is indeed an irresponsible act and deterrent action should be taken against those involved, he added.

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Meanwhile, President of the Malaysian Muslim Doctors Organisation (PERDIM) Datuk Dr Ahmad Shukri Ismail said that the halal status of a vaccine can be ascertained by the Malaysian Department of Islamic Development (JAKIM) for Muslim consumption.

He said PERDIM also agreed for stern action to be taken against extreme anti-vaxxers who were threatening the government’s efforts in preventing further spread of COVID-19.

“We cannot question the stance taken by the anti-vaxxers, but they shouldn’t make things difficult because the government has done its best for the people,” Dr Ahmad Shukri added.

Last week, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced that 9.6 million or 30 per cent of Malaysians are expected to receive COVID-19 vaccine next year.

He said high-risk groups such as frontliners and senior citizens, who will be among the first in the country to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, must not be considered as ‘laboratory rats’ as the vaccine would have undergone large-scale and safe clinical trials.

The prime minister gave the assurance that the vaccine to be used in Malaysia must meet the conditions set by the Health Ministry’s National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA), adding that the government will never compromise on the matter. – BERNAMA

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