KUALA LUMPUR (May 7): The National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia (NUFAM) urged the government to immediately vaccinate airline workers before dispatching flights to India as they are the most at-risk workers besides frontliners working in hospitals.

In a statement today, the organisation said thousands of airline workers are yet to be vaccinated, especially the cabin crew and pilots.

“We learned of the government's intention today to bring home Malaysians living in India but we need to remind them the necessary precautions they must take.

“So far, two airlines have initiated the vaccination process by informing their crew members to sign up for the Sinovac vaccine, but we do not know how fast the process of vaccination will be done. We are monitoring from those reports we receive daily.

“It could be days or weeks before the flight crew are given the first shots of this vaccine. So, while waiting, many are worried they could be called up for these rescue flights,” it said.

Furthermore, NUFAM also urged Coordinating Minister for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme Khairy Jamaluddin to give his assurance that none of the flight crew should fly to India before they are vaccinated.

“India is now deemed to be the most high-risk country for Covid-19. We must take all the necessary precautions to ensure these workers are fully protected. Dozens of flights may be dispatched anytime on these rescue missions to India in the coming days. We want to see the crew members given the necessary protection, which includes taking the vaccine,” it said.

Besides, airlines also should not force their flight crew who may be too afraid to operate on the rescue missions to India due to the risk and high reported Covid-19 cases there, said NUFAM.

“Many of these crew members are afraid to say no when they are called up to operate these sectors as disciplinary action could be taken against them. If they are not given full vaccination, then it's only right that these crew members should not operate on those high-risk flights to India.

“Therefore, the airlines must also ensure their workers are given this protection before dispatching them on such rescue missions to India,” added the organisation.

Yesterday, India recorded 412,262 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the country’s caseload since the pandemic began to 2.1 million. Meanwhile, 3,980 deaths due to the pandemic were recorded, taking the national total to 230,168 fatalities.

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