PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysian youths are encouraged to participate in the Malaysia Vaccine Support Volunteers (MyVAC) programme to boost the public's confidence, especially other youngsters, in registering for the Covid-19 vaccine.
Malaysian Youth Council president Jufitri Joha said MyVAC is coordinated by the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry, the Higher Education Ministry and the Youth and Sports Ministry and supported by the Malaysian Youth Council.
"We must make sure the youth is aware that Covid-19 is fatal, especially with the presence of the new variant which is fatal to a person even without them developing symptoms," he said.
Mr Jufiri noted that currently, MyVAC has a total of 30,268 volunteers as at June 3, in which the majority of the participants are youths.
"By encouraging youths to become a part of MyVAC, they will be given the opportunity to be vaccinated and this will indirectly influence their friends to sign up and take the vaccine.
Mr Jufitri also supported more youths to share their vaccination journey on social media to further promote vaccination among their age group.
"I see an increasing awareness among the youths to get vaccinated when lately Covid-19 has not only claimed the lives of the elderly and chronic patients, but also the youths and children.
"If many of our youths die (because of Covid-19), then Malaysia will lose the country's assets," he said.
With the current high number of Covid-19 cases, the presence of variants in the country and many cases being brought in dead to hospitals, Universiti Putra Malaysia medical epidemiologist Assoc Prof Dr Malina Osman advised the youths to strictly adhere to standard operating procedure.
"The younger age group are those who are most mobile in the community and they are involved in major sectors like delivery services, retail, utilities and others.
"Violation of the standard operating procedure may easily expose them to infection, and they also may serve as a source of 'sporadic' transmission as most of them remain asymptomatic," she said.
She suggested that the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force or the Special Committee on Covid-19 Vaccine Supply open up a special platform for youngsters to register for vaccination, similar to the AstraZeneca opt-in programme.
"Our young population are those who usually wish to have immediate response and most of them are eager to get vaccinated.
"However, some of them who have registered have expressed frustration as their dates are still not available in MySejahtera," she said.
Dr Malina believes that because of the delay, some of the youngsters may decide to remain on the fence as they perceive that there would be not much change even if they registered early.
"As most of them are the ones who are involved in economic sectors, we hope they will get their vaccines as soon as possible," she said.
Malaysian Public Health Physicians Association president Datuk Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar agreed that vaccine hesitancy is not a major problem among youths in the country.
"Youngsters are ever willing to take the vaccine.
"Currently, the perception of the public is that we don't have enough vaccines as the government is targeting the vulnerable group first," he said.
Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has recently called on Malaysian public - especially youths - to protect themselves from the dangers of Covid-19.
"Register yourselves to be vaccinated so you can reduce the risk of being infected by severe Covid-19. This is because the effects can be prolonged, and it will affect a person's quality of life as well as productivity.
"Remember, the youths are the main group of workers for various sectors in our country. Healthy young people are the key to the country's productivity, " he said.