As of today, the Selangor government has opened up registrations through the SELangkah app and website to allow employers to purchase COVID-19 vaccines for employees.This initiative is called the Selgate Covid-19 Vaccination Programme.
The vaccine that will be administered is CoronaVac (commonly simply referred to as Sinovac), by China’s Sinovac Biotech. Both doses of the vaccine will be done in assigned panel clinics (for companies with under 1,500 staff), or via a task force coming to your office (for larger companies). You can read a more detailed guide on how this initiative works here.
If you’re an employer who’s hesitant about this, here are 7 reasons why you should be signing up for the initiative to get your employees vaccinated.
1. No Reported Risks Of Blood Clotting
The AstraZeneca vaccine has attracted much concern due to the rare but severe side effect of individuals developing blood clots.
There have yet to be reports of Sinovac resulting in such serious risks, apart from one recipient who developed an allergic skin reaction with welts in an early phase trial of the vaccine. It was, however, resolved in 3 days upon treatment with antihistamines and steroids, according to Healthline.
Common side effects from Sinovac’s shots instead include injection site pain and soreness, along with fatigue, diarrhea, and muscle weakness, although there were fewer reports of the latter symptoms.
2. It Uses Traditional Technology We’re Familiar With
Sinovac uses a more traditional approach in vaccine technology, relying on inactivated or “dead” virus particles to produce an immune response, according to the same Healthline source.
AstraZeneca’s vaccine, on the other hand, relies on a chimpanzee adenovirus to carry spike proteins from the coronavirus into a body to create an immune response.
Dictionary time: A chimpanzee adenovirus is a group of common viruses (like the flu) that causes these infections in chimpanzees. When modified for use in vaccines, these viruses are very efficient at helping to produce immune responses.
Sinovac’s CoronaVac is made from an inactivated virus that carries the basic genetic information that trains the immune system to fight off the vaccine. The actual part of the virus that causes the SARS-CoV-2 disease is destroyed.
Influenza, polio, and rabies vaccines all use these methods to create immunity too, but don’t create immune responses as strong as other types of vaccines. That is why the efficacy rate of Sinovac’s vaccine stands at just 56%, while AstraZeneca’s is 76%.
However, because the vaccines are new, their effectiveness is still being extensively trialed and thus there is no certainty that one is better than the other. Ultimately, getting a vaccine is better than not being vaccinated at all.
3. This Opportunity Quickens The Immunisation Queue
Based on Malaysia’s National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme, assuming that all your employees are healthy and under 60 years old, the vaccination wait can be uncertain. For many of us who weren’t eligible for Phase 1 and 2, our MySejahtera apps still have the “Eligible for vaccine?” portion unmarked.
When the government opened up registrations for the first-come-first-served AstraZeneca vaccine, all 268,000 slots were taken up in about 3 hours, proving that Malaysians do want the vaccine, and they want it fast.
This time, employers in Selangor are given the opportunity to jump ahead too, with Sinovac’s vaccine. It’s speculated that Sinovac vaccinations under the Selgate Covid-19 Vaccination Programme may commence in June, but no confirmed dates have been given so far.
4. Ensures Staff Safety When Carrying Out On-Site Duties
For industries where human interaction on-site is inevitable, a looming fear is present where employees may contract the virus from external sources and pass it on to colleagues or clients.
That usually results in the closure of business for sanitisation, employees going through mass testing, and anxiety about when your business can return full-force.
Under this initiative, employers with workers who move from one job site to the next frequently will have the assurance that employees can fight off the virus much faster. It then results in them returning to work soon after inoculation.
5. More Of The Workforce Can Return To The Office
To comply with social distancing orders, offices have had to reduce their workforce according to a rotation schedule or only allow up to 70% of staff work at the office.
It can be exhausting for many to keep up with the ever-changing SOPs, not to mention the reduction in productivity and collaboration from scattered workforces.
Signing up for Selangkah VAX may allow your office to return to normal much quicker. Once employees have been vaccinated, social distancing can be reduced in certain situations, allowing for more employees to return to the office.
However, it is still recommended that vaccinated individuals maintain standard COVID-19 SOPs until a majority of the population is vaccinated.
6. Reduces Absences Due To Medical Emergencies
Testing positive for the virus can become hectic for companies. In the best-case scenario, employees have mild symptoms, and can simply self-quarantine and work remotely. In the worst-case scenario, they may need to be hospitalised, or sent to a quarantine facility where working off-site may not be possible.
This would require them to take sick leaves to get treated and get ample rest to recover. This makes them unproductive when dealing with urgent work.
To add, someone who’s contracted the virus and is experiencing symptoms will require at least a week to recover, and in that time, they may be out of commission. On the other hand, the mild symptoms associated with getting vaccinated typically only last for a few days, with most recovering within 2 days.
7. Helps The Nation Reach Herd Immunity Faster
Getting at least 80% of your employees vaccinated will help your office’s population achieve herd immunity, protecting the employees who can’t be vaccinated due to health reasons.
In turn, with more of Malaysia’s population getting vaccinated at a faster rate, it will help the country achieve its goal to inoculate 80% of its 32 million people by February 2022.
So far, 1,202,395 people have received at least one vaccine dose, while 733,237 have been fully vaccinated as of May 16, 2021, according to JKJAV (Covid-19 Vaccine Supply Access Guarantee Committee).
Employers who sign up through Selangkah VAX can help bring this number closer to the nation’s targeted goal in time, or much quicker.
It’s worth noting that the Sinovac vaccines bought through the Selangkah VAX programme will not be free. Vulcan Post clarified in a call to Selgate Corporation (who’s behind this initiative) that a single Sinovac shot is currently priced at RM190 per shot. With the full dose requiring 2 shots, it totals up to RM380 per pax.
However, upon successful registration, an official quotation will be sent via email to you within the next 3 working days.
It’s definitely an expense if your company decides to bear the cost, but it’s a worthwhile and beneficial investment to achieve all of the points stated above, especially since it’s not extremely pricey per employee.
- You can learn more about the Selgate Covid-19 Vaccination Programme here.
- You can read more of our COVID-19 vaccine-related articles here.
Featured Image Credit: Vulcan Post / Unsplash