LettersOPINION

Letter: Build Public Trust with Vaccine Transparency

By the Malaysian Health Coalition
Full Signature List on myhealthcoalition.org

The Malaysian Health Coalition (MHC) welcomes the government’s RM10 million fund allocation to compensate those who experience severe side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine, as well as an additional RM2 billion to the National COVID-19 Immunisation Plan (both reported on 23 March 2021). While it is highly unlikely that an individual would need to be hospitalised or experience long-term side effects as a result of the COVID-19 vaccine, the compensation fund will help bolster public confidence and trust.

Alongside this fund, we strongly urge the following:

  • Regularly publish AEFI reports

The government must regularly publish the adverse events following immunisation (AEFI) reports to dispel rumours and increase vaccine confidence. We must join countries like Norway and South Korea where adverse drug reactions are updated weekly in a publicly accessible online registry. Regular reporting of this data will help to enhance public understanding of the vaccine.  Besides that, the government must encourage the Rakyat to report any adverse events, including updating MySejahtera to be one reporting channel.

  • Report on vaccines responsibly

Finally, all media agencies and public figures must do their part in ensuring that information surrounding COVID-19 vaccines are reported in responsible ways. The news media must avoid sensationalist reporting on vaccines and ensure that headlines do not mislead the public. Elected officials, as one of the first groups of people to get vaccinated, also have a responsibility to educate their constituents on vaccine safety and encourage more people to register for the vaccine. They must lead by example and embody the motto of “Lindung Diri, Lindung Semua”.

  • Ensure accountability in execution

The management of these funds must be made transparent to safeguard public trust and ensure accountability. There must also be clarity on the eligibility for compensation as well as how the Rakyat can apply for reimbursement should they require additional medical care post-vaccination. The government must include these details in their vaccine communications to demystify the vaccination process and combat hesitancy.

 

The government must maximise its effort in building public trust by ensuring each step of the vaccination process is clear, transparent, and easily understood by the public.

 

BERKHIDMAT UNTUK NEGARA. 

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