IPOH (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Malaysian Education Ministry wants all 500,000 teachers to be vaccinated against Covid-19 under the second phase of the national programme that starts on Monday (April 19), said Deputy Education Minister Mah Hang Soon.
Some 10 per cent of teachers have already been vaccinated in phase one of the immunisation programme.
"There are over 500,000 teachers nationwide. We are trying really hard to get the remaining teachers to be included in the second phase," he told reporters after attending an event in Ipoh last Saturday.
The roll-out timetable of the National Immunisation Programme has been brought forward by the government due to low registration numbers.
The country will bring forward the implementation of the third phase of vaccination - meant for the public - to the end of April, and will consider a policy change if the sign-up rate does not improve in the next two months.
Only one-third of Malaysia's senior citizens - designated as a high-risk group - have signed up for the jab under the second phase starting on Monday.
The first phase that started on Feb 24 involved mostly health front-liners and lawmakers.
So far some 1.01 million Malaysians have received at least one of the two Covid-19 jabs, or about 3 per cent of the country's nearly 33 million population.
Speaking about concerns of Covid-19 infections in schools, Mr Mah said both the Health and Education ministries have clear health protocols on matters pertaining to school operations.
"Our priority is always the health and safety of students. But the continuation of education is also important because no one is able to predict if the disease will last for six months, one year or three years.
"For subjects related to languages, it is still possible to catch up but for subjects like mathematics and science, it is difficult because there is a continuation issue from one year to the next, " he said.
There have been concern about infections being spread among students and between students and teachers.
But he said he agreed with the Health Ministry that chances of students in schools transmitting the disease to one another was not that high as most got infected from outside.
"The infection rate from trips to bazaars and shopping malls is higher. Therefore, adults must register for the vaccination to ensure herd immunity is achieved.
"Vaccination will not only protect us, but our children and students as well, " he said.
Meanwhile, secretary-general of the opposition Democratic Action Party, Lim Guan Eng, has called for Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government to lift the suspension of Parliament.
He said the state of emergency proclaimed in January to curb the Covid-19 outbreak has been ineffective, Malay Mail online news quoted him as saying.
"The Parliament should not be suspended and Malaysia in a state of political limbo just because Muhyiddin has lost his parliamentary majority following the open split with Umno.
"There is no reason not to allow a mere 220 vaccinated MPs to meet in Parliament, when all business establishments, schools, pasar malam (night markets) and even sports stadiums can reopen," he said in a speech at the DAP Melaka political convention on Sunday.
The federal Parliament has a total of 222 seats, but two MPs who died have not been replaced as no by-elections would be conducted during the state of emergency that is to last until Aug 1.