Malaysia makes Covid-19 vaccinations compulsory for federal civil servants ahead of Oct reopening

Unvaccinated employees have been given until Nov 1 to complete their inoculations.
Unvaccinated employees have been given until Nov 1 to complete their inoculations.PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR - The Malaysian government has made vaccination mandatory for all federal civil servants ahead of a planned reopening of the economy in October.

In a statement on Thursday (Sept 30), the Public Service Department (PSD) said that those who refused vaccination without any medical exemptions would be subject to disciplinary action.

“All federal civil servants have to complete their vaccination before Nov 1 2021,” the department said in the statement published on its Facebook page.

It said that those who had yet to be vaccinated could walk into any vaccination centres set up by the government to get their shots.

Nearly 98 percent of federal civil servants had completed their vaccination to date, the department said, and the move on Thursday was meant to compel the remaining 16,902 to do so.

The department said that the vaccination mandate was meant to provide confidence to the general public and was also in line with the aim of restoring government services to optimum capacity ahead of the economy’s reopening.

As Malaysia achieves a high vaccination rate, with the national vaccination drive widened beyond the adult population, authorities are now reaching out to those who have not registered or have refused vaccination so far.

On Wednesday, the Health Ministry refuted a claim in a viral video that five teenagers had died after being vaccinated.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said that the unnamed woman in the viral video, who made the claim, had “flat out lied”.  The health ministry said that contrary to her claims two teenagers had died in the state of Perak, but both were unvaccinated.

On Thursday, Mr Khairy said that over 400,000 teenagers had been infected with Covid-19 this year - a drastic spike from the 12,000 such cases recorded in 2020. The number of deaths among teenagers has also soared with 67 recorded this year, compared to only six last year.

The government started vaccinating teenagers in September and Mr Khairy said 43 per cent of them had received at least one dose.

Authorities are also making available booster shots for high-risk groups, such as front liners and those with comorbidities, beginning from October. A majority of deaths post-vaccination have occurred among the elderly with comorbidities.

The plan to reopen the economy next month includes the easing of most domestic travel restrictions.

Tough curbs imposed as part of a lockdown,  in place since mid-May, have mostly been eased in all Malaysian states, and most social activities have been allowed for the fully vaccinated.

Interstate travel is set to be allowed when 90 per cent of the adult population is fully vaccinated. The figure currently stands at 85.7 per cent. Only 61.5 per cent of the total population have been fully vaccinated.

Covid-19 case numbers in the country have remained in the five-figure range, although there have been signs of a general decline in the past few days.

Malaysia reported 12,735 cases on Thursday and 208 deaths as of the day before. The weekly average for deaths has also continued with the downwards trend .