IPOH: The Education Ministry is in talks with the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry (MOSTI) and Health Ministry to include all teachers in Phase 2 of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NIP).
Its deputy minister, Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon said that previously, the ministry decided only 55,000 high-risk teachers were expected to be included in the second phase.
"We are trying to include all teachers including those in the high-risk category to receive the vaccine under Phase 2.
"In Phase 1, more than 10 per cent of teachers in the country have received their vaccines.
"We are trying to do our best under Phase 2. However, the ministry needs to get the green light from MOSTI and Health Ministry," Dr Mah told reporters after an event at SMJK Yuk Choy here today.
It was reported that due to limited doses in the first phase, some 500,000 were allocated for medical and non-medical frontliners.
In February, MOSTI Minister Khairy Jamaluddin had requested for the Education Ministry to give a list of high-risk teachers so that they could receive the vaccine ahead of schools reopening in March.
At that time, Khairy, who is the Coordinating Minister for the NIP had said they were facing constraints, as the supply of vaccines for the first phase is only about one million doses – a portion of which has been earmarked for some 500,000 medical and non-medical frontliners.
On a separate issue, Dr Mah said the spread of Covid-19 among schoolgoing students in Kelantan was not high, and that the bigger risk for them was if they contracted the virus from their communities.
He said this when asked to comment on calls by the National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) for schools in Kelantan to be closed after several districts were recently placed under the Movement Control Order due to a spike in Covid-19 infections.
"There have been reports on Covid-19 cases at schools and the cases are spread from outside (the schools).
"In terms of risk, the spread of the virus among students are not high compared to when they go to a bazaar or shopping complex. The virus is now in the community," he said.
Dr Mah said the ministry is always concerned over the health and safety of students and teachers at schools.
"But at the same time, we need to understand that education is very important for our children. We know in terms of education, the students are badly affected during this pandemic.
"Students can catch up if it's a language subject, but what about mathematics and science subjects? We need to find ways on how to balance this, between life and livelihood," he added.
Earlier, Mah witnessed a handover ceremony of the late painter Teh Siew Joo's paintings to the Board of Governor of SMJK Yuk Choy.