Encourage anti-vaxxers, beware of mental health crisis

Photo for illustration purposes.

KUCHING: Alliance For Safe Community chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye is of the opinion that it is not necessary to make Covid-19 vaccines compulsory.

Noting that every eligible population must be inoculated, he said it would be better to take an approach of convincing the people particularly those who are eligible but do not want to be inoculated, that vaccination is the best way to manage the Covid-19 pandemic.

“There must be a continuous effort to encourage these groups (anti-vaxxers) to get vaccinated and to prove the vaccine efficacy and severity of the infection if they are not vaccinated,” he told New Sarawak Tribune when contacted on Friday (Oct 8).

He was prompted for comments on the Malaysian Employers Federation’s (MEF) recent suggestion, urging private sector employers to make it mandatory for employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19.  Eligible vaccine employees who opted not to be inoculated without a valid reason should be terminated by their employers, said the federation.  

To make Covid-19 vaccines compulsory, Lee said a new law had to be passed.  

“The country has gone through so much problems in this difficult time. Taking harsh action by sacking someone from the job because he does not want to be vaccinated will be a disaster for that person who depends on the job for income to support himself and his family members,” he said.

Lee warned that sacking employees who did not want to be vaccinated could lead to another serious problem which must not be overlooked.

“It is not only the economic crisis; we are going to face another crisis of mental health. We do not want people to be in a state of depression because if they lose their job and get sacked, they will be very depressed.

“So, if they are depressed, you can well imagine what can happen. They might end their lives,” he said, adding that since January this year, there had already been over 600 cases of suicide in the country.

Lee urged employers to take a more sympathetic approach and continue to engage with their employees to encourage them to get inoculated.

“Meanwhile, for instance, there are some eligible teachers who do not want to get the vaccine, yet they are not sacked. Instead, they are given other roles and will not meet the students face to face,” he said.

On the other hand, he said, employers could also allow eligible but unvaccinated employees to work from home.

“There are also those who cannot take the vaccine for health reasons after seeking the doctor’s advice.

“Those who really cannot take the vaccine, I think it is unfair to terminate them. So, one solution is to encourage these employees to work from home,” he said.

Lee also said that it was unfair for anti-vaxxers to go against the Covid-19 vaccination and hoped that they would understand the importance of the vaccine which had been proven by science and the medical experts.