As of today, the Selangor government opened registrations through the SELangkah app and website to allow employers to purchase COVID-19 vaccines for employees, this initiative is called the Selgate Vaccination Program. Covid-19.
The vaccine that will be administered is CoronaVac (commonly referred to simply as Sinovac), from the Chinese company Sinovac Biotech. The two doses of vaccine will be administered in specialized clinics (for companies with less than 1,500 employees) or via a working group that will come to your office (for large companies). You can read a more detailed guide on how this initiative works here.
If you are an employer who is hesitant about this, here are 7 reasons why you should sign up for the initiative to get your employees vaccinated.
1. No reported risk of blood clotting
The AstraZeneca vaccine has generated a lot of concern because of the rare but serious side effect of individuals developing blood clots.
There have not yet been any reports of Sinovac causing such serious risks, except for one recipient who developed an allergic skin reaction with markings in an early phase trial of the vaccine. It was resolved within 3 days after treatment with antihistamines and steroids, however, according to Healthline.
Rather, common side effects of Sinovac injections include pain and soreness at the injection site, as well as fatigue, diarrhea, and muscle weakness, although there have been fewer reports of the latter symptoms.
2. It uses traditional technology with which we are familiar
Sinovac uses a more traditional approach in vaccine technology, relying on inactivated or “dead” viral particles to produce an immune response, according to the same source Healthline.
AstraZeneca’s vaccine, on the other hand, relies on a chimpanzee adenovirus to transport the coronavirus spike proteins 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 effective in helping to produce immune responses.
Sinovac’s CoronaVac is made from an inactivated virus that contains the basic genetic information that causes the immune system to fight the vaccine. The real part of the virus that causes SARS-CoV-2 disease is destroyed.
The flu, polio, and rabies vaccines all use these methods to create immunity as well, but do not create immune responses as strong as other types of vaccines. That is why the efficacy rate of Sinovac vaccine is only 56%, while that of AstraZeneca is 76%.
However, since the vaccines are new, their effectiveness is still widely tested and so there is no certainty that one is better than the other. At the end of the day, it’s better to get the vaccine than not to get the vaccine at all.
3. This opportunity speeds up the vaccination queue
Based on Malaysia’s National COVID-19 Vaccination Program, assuming all of your employees are healthy and under the age of 60, the vaccination expectation can be uncertain. For many of us who were not eligible for Phases 1 and 2, our MySejahtera apps still say “Vaccine Eligible?” unmarked portion.
When the government opened registrations for the AstraZeneca vaccine on a first come, first serve basis, the 268,000 slots were filled in about 3 hours, proving that Malaysians want the vaccine and want it fast.
This time around, Selangor employers also have the option to get ahead with the Sinovac vaccine. It is speculated that Sinovac vaccinations as part of the Selgate Covid-19 vaccination program could start in June, but no confirmed date has been given so far.
4. Ensures the safety of personnel when performing on-site tasks
For industries where on-site human interaction is inevitable, there is a looming fear where employees can contract the virus from external sources and pass it on to co-workers or customers.
This usually results in the business shutting down for disinfection, employees undergoing mass testing, and worry that your business will return to full throttle.
As part of this initiative, employers whose workers frequently travel from site to site will be assured that employees can fight the virus much faster. This then results in their return to work shortly after inoculation.
5. More of the workforce can return to the office
To comply with social distancing orders, offices have had to downsize on a rotating schedule or allow only up to 70% of staff to work in the office.
Keeping up with ever-changing SOPs can be exhausting for many, not to mention the reduced productivity and collaboration of a dispersed workforce.
Signing up for Selangkah VAX can get your office back to normal much faster. Once employees are vaccinated, social distancing can be reduced in some situations, allowing more employees to return to the office.
However, it is still recommended that those vaccinated 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 get hectic for businesses. Ideally, employees have mild symptoms and can simply quarantine themselves and work remotely. In the worst case, they may need to be hospitalized or sent to a quarantine facility where offsite work may not be possible.
This would require them to take sick leave to seek treatment and to rest enough to recover. This makes them unproductive when it comes to urgent work.
To add, a person who has contracted the virus and is showing symptoms will need at least a week to recover, and during that time they may be off duty. On the other hand, mild symptoms associated with vaccination usually only last a few days, with most recovering within 2 days.
7. Help the nation achieve herd immunity faster
Having at least 80% of your employees vaccinated will help your office population achieve collective immunity, protecting employees who cannot be vaccinated for health reasons.
In turn, with a larger portion of the Malaysian population getting vaccinated at a faster rate, this will help the country meet its goal of vaccinating 80% of its 32 million people by February 2022.
So far, 1,202,395 people have received at least one dose of the vaccine, while 733,237 have been fully vaccinated as of May 16, 2021, according to JKJAV (Committee to guarantee access to the supply of Covid-19 vaccines).
Employers who sign up through Selangkah VAX can help bring that number closer to the nation’s target on time, or much faster.
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It should be noted that Sinovac vaccines purchased under the Selangkah VAX program will not be free. Vulcan Post clarified in a call to Selgate Corporation (which is behind this initiative) that a single Sinovac shot is currently priced at RM190 per shot. With the full dose requiring 2 injections, it totals up to RM380 per person.
Upon successful registration, an official quote will be emailed to you within the next 3 working days.
It is definitely an expense if your business decides to bear the cost, but it is a worthwhile and beneficial investment to achieve all of the points mentioned above, especially since it is not extremely costly per employee.
- You can read more about the Selgate Covid-19 vaccination program here.
- You can read more articles on the COVID-19 vaccine here.
Featured Image Credit: Vulcan Post / Unsplash
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