PETALING JAYA: With the overcrowding and ensuing chaos at various vaccination centres (PPVs) across the country over the past week, a former health minister has put forward a few suggestions which he believes could help solve the problem.
Amanah’s Dzulkefly Ahmad said there are ways to “manage the chaos” that has been criticised by the public as well as various quarters.
Speaking to FMT, the Selangor Task Force Covid-19 chairman said his first suggestion would be for a website to allow for bookings by people who wish to be vaccinated at a specific PPV.
“With the website, anyone can book their vaccination date at the PPV using their passport or IC number. This would be subject to a maximum of 300 people per day.
“There could also be an allowance for 50 more people being put on the waiting list in case of no-shows or cancellations,” he suggested.
“You can show up at any time during that day, which provides the flexibility to space out the vaccinations,’ he said.
Dzulkefly also proposed having a SMS-based booking system to accommodate those without smartphones, and those who may not know how to book an appointment via the website.
“So, if you’ve got a SMS PPV ID, passport number and day chosen (for vaccination), then you’ve got a booking system of sorts and this too can avoid congestion and potential clusters at PPVs,” he said.
The Kuala Selangor MP pointed out how Selangor encourages those who want to get vaccinated to first book their appointment on the Selangkah App before coming to PPVs in order to reduce congestion and waiting time.
Previously, the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) stated that one reason for overcrowding at PPVs was due to people coming in for their appointments ahead of schedule.
On Thursday, FMT reported how the long lines at the Persada Johor International Convention Centre PPV forced thousands of people to sweat it out in the heat while waiting for their vaccines, with some people only getting their jabs four hours later.
Apart from viral videos of the lengthy queues and the lack of compliance with SOPs such as physical distancing, social media was also abuzz with footage of people crowding in a tent for shelter due to the rain.
The PPV’s coordinator Zainal Eran said the huge crowds were due to the centre receiving an additional 2,000 appointments from federal authorities on top of the daily 6,000 it handles, adding that there were no additional personnel deployed to help with the extra appointments.
On the same day, hordes of people rushed to a PPV in Sandakan, Sabah after it was announced that rules will be relaxed for the fully vaccinated and that the state government was allowing walk-in vaccinations.
There were also massive crowds at the Bukit Jalil Stadium PPV in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday after the facility opened for walk-in registrations for non-Malaysian citizens.
Meanwhile, speaking on the chaos at the Persada Johor International Convention Centre PPV, Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching said it was crucial that more personnel are deployed for crowd control, with those who come too early for their jabs turned away.
Teo was also concerned that high-risk groups would be dissuaded from getting vaccinated if they saw the crowds outside PPVs.
“I also hope to see more PPVs operating in Johor, especially with the state currently having the second-lowest vaccination rate in the country.
“According to the Vaccine Supply Access Guarantee Special Committee (JKJAV) website, there are 51 PPVs in Johor, but these numbers have not been updated. At least 10 of these PPVs are currently not in operation.
She also said that while Kulai has got two PPVs, their capacity was only around 3,000 a day, which is “definitely not enough”.
“I have received many complaints about overcrowding,” she told FMT.
“The World Trade Centre Kuala Lumpur (WTCKL) PPV faced the same issue before, and they managed to disperse the crowd after enforcing strict SOPs. (Other) PPVs with crowd control issues should do the same.”