In a written parliamentary reply last week, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin stated that the ministry is mulling mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for workers in certain sectors including health, security, education, and services.
Khairy says this mandate would be allowed under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) 1994 that regulates employers’ responsibilities to protect the safety, health, and welfare of workers, with the justification that unvaccinated employees endanger the workplace. Additionally, the minister wrote that MoH might be considering an “opt-out” option for those who refuse to get vaccinated.
Naturally, there is a catch behind the option as those who willingly opted out from receiving their vaccine will also have to forego certain privileges that will only be given to fully vaccinated individuals. Some of those privileges might include entering public places such as malls, restaurants, government buildings, universities, libraries, and certain social activities like sports.
That being said, Khairy claims that mandatory vaccinations might not even be necessary as 85% of Malaysians are willing to get the jab while only 5% are opposed to it, citing an MoH study from April. In other words, the government’s vaccination goals might be achievable even when considering those unwilling to get inoculated.
Meanwhile, there are still around 2000 teachers nationwide who refuse to get the shot even though schools will be opened in stages starting next week. For now, those teachers will be transferred or sequestered from students and vaccinated colleagues, with the government considering imposing penalties. As of 28 September, 94% of the country’s adult population have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, with the figure being 37.7% for teens.