Vaccine priority for Malaysians before visitors

The Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) has said it has discussed Covid-19 vaccine tourism with the Association of Private Hospitals Malaysia (APHM), but the consensus is that it is only right to prioritise Malaysians to ensure herd immunity can be achieved.

Most vaccines are double-dose that can only be administered 21 days apart. So, there is a question of whether a visitor who goes to get vaccinated should be quarantined before the second jab.

Some private hospitals in Malaysia have been appointed as Covid-19 vaccination centres to help the government with the national immunisation programme, but they are not offering this to private consumers until the vaccine supply stabilises.

Once private hospitals can offer the vaccines at a price, then there is a possibility for medical tourists to come and vaccinate there as well.

Although Malaysia’s borders remain closed, there is an exemption for medical tourists under strict standard operating procedures.   There is demand from Indonesia, South Korea and Singapore for critical care. The government is also negotiating with China and Singapore on mutual acceptance of digital health passports.

The APHM has urged the government to make preparations for the creation of vaccine passports for those who have been immunised against Covid-19, to kick-start medical tourism.

This, they argue, should not be limited to those who have been vaccinated but should include those who have undergone Covid-19 tests and cleared of the virus before travelling.

APHM is calling for a digital system to provide proof of immunisation for vaccine passports, using blockchain technology.   They suggest the health ministry should serve as the regulatory body for this, and that medical tourism should be reopened once a large portion of Malaysians is immunised, and not at the end of the vaccination programme.