KOTA KINABALU, Feb 15 — Sabah will begin the first phase of its Covid-19 vaccination programme on February 26 and estimates it will take a whole year to complete the exercise for the roughly three million people within its borders.

Sabah Covid-19 spokesman Datuk Masidi Manjun said the vaccine is expected to arrive in the state on February 22.

He added that the first recipients will be the state’s frontliners, in keeping with the national policy, followed by senior citizens and those with chronic medical conditions.

Masidi also assured the vast number of undocumented foreigners in the state that they too have been accounted for under the immunisation programme.

The state minister said the government has agreed to widen the vaccination coverage for all to ensure herd immunity.

“The approach is no one is safe until everyone is safe,” he said today.

Sabah’s widespread undocumented immigrant population is decades old, where an estimated hundreds of thousands of people, mostly from the southern Philippines, have been residing in the state.

Masidi had been asked how the state would deal with the high population and those that were too afraid to step forward to receive immunisation for the fear of being arrested.

However, he did not answer the question.

Masidi said 60 per cent of the 115,157 foreign workers in Sabah, or 69,088 of those registered with Socso, have been screened for Covid-19 so far, and that the process will continue till the end of the month.

He said the number of workers were those sent by 2,621 out of 8,369 employers registered with Socso in Sabah.

“Out of that, 255 workers were found to have Covid-19,” he said.