KUANTAN: Media practitioners have been reminded to exercise caution in their reports on the Covid-19 vaccine, Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah (pix) said.
Saifuddin said inaccurate reports may have an impact on the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme now actively being carried out to contain the pandemic.
“It may sound trivial but the impact on the community is huge. We cannot afford to fail when it comes to the vaccination exercise, massive efforts by many parties involving big teams. Apart from print, the electronic media, television, radio, organisations and leaders also must be cautious.
“Ensure validity, issues concerning vaccines and its effects are very sensitive and if inaccurate news is spread it can cause worry and disrupt the vaccination exercise,” he told reporters after attending the Program Erat Kasih programme with residents of the Cenderawasih and Taman LKNP residential areas here today.
Saifuddin was asked on recent local reports on the vaccine that have triggered reactions from frontliners and netizens.
The Indera Mahkota MP said so far, two cases involving the alleged spread of false news on vaccine have been brought to the ministry’s attention.
“There is an arrest for one of the cases, and one more we looking into it seriously and there is a possibility both these cases would be the first to be prosecuted under the Emergency (Essential Powers) (No. 2) Ordinance 2021 that took effect on March 12,” he said without going into further details.
Meanwhile, Saifuddin said the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) is working with telecommunication companies to improve internet connectivity at vaccination centres for the next phase.
“When we enter the next phase, clinics and hospitals cannot afford to be vaccination centres… public places such as halls or other institutions will be used as vaccination centres which may have poor internet access areas.
“We are trying to ensure that all places where the vaccine process is given have adequate Internet access because the recording process involves the use of the Internet, we will help so that there is no disruption,“ he said.
Saifuddin also said that the subsidy to buy smartphones for B40 households and the MyBaikHati scheme announced by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin under the Strategic Programme to Empower the People and the Economy (Pemerkasa) recently is seen as appropriate to support the country’s digitalisation agenda.
Meanwhile, in Kuala Lumpur, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah also made the same call, advising media practitioners to report only news confirmed by the Health Ministry, especially when they involve sensitive issues.
He said the media must be more careful and responsible in reporting news related to vaccination exercise.
“Inaccurate reporting, what more if they are untrue, can affect the overall smooth implementation of the (immunisation) programme.
“The MOH hopes the good cooperation between the media and all agencies involved in the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme will continue to ensure the programme’s success,” he said in a statement today.
In addition, Dr Noor Hisham said the media also needs to disseminate information related to the programme responsibly as this involved the future of the people and the country.
He said this was because the vaccination exercise actively being carried out in Malaysia and around the world was the best method in the effort to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.
Earlier today, immunisation programme Coordinating Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin via his official Twitter, expressed his displeasure over the headline used by a local newspaper yesterday which seemed to unfairly link the death of a nurse in Kedah to the Covid-19 vaccination. — Bernama