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KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 21 — The first phase of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme will be brought forward to February 24 instead of February 26 as initially scheduled.
This was announced by Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin during a press conference following the arrival of the first batch of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport earlier today.
“So far 571,802 frontliners from the health and non-health sectors have registered to get vaccinated.
“The Prime Minister (Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin) and Health Director-General Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah will be the first individuals to receive the injections on Wednesday,” he said.
Khairy, who is also the coordinating minister for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme, said both Muhyiddin and Dr Noor Hisham will take their first jabs at Klinik Kesihatan Putrajaya after the weekly Cabinet meeting.
Malaysia received its first shipment of Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine earlier today after months of anticipation.
The first batch of the Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine developed by United States pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and German firm BioNTech comprises a total of 312,390 doses.
Asked why the scheduled commencement was brought forward, Khairy explained that this was the Prime Minister’s directive after taking into account the satisfactory level of preparedness displayed by those involved in the distribution process of the vaccines.
“After YAB PM and Dr Noor Hisham, we will start with the immunisers or those administering vaccines to protect them,” he added.
Khairy said the first batch of vaccines would be distributed to 16 Vaccine Storage Centres (VSC) located nationwide — four in Johor, two in Penang, six in Selangor, three in Kuala Lumpur and one in Putrajaya for now.
“In total, we have 54 vaccine storage sites all over the country, including Sabah and Sarawak. For this first shipment, it’ll be sent to those 16 sites I mentioned earlier,” he added.
Khairy also gave his assurance that undocumented migrants will not be detained by the authorities when they come forward for immunisation, adding that he was well aware of their concerns.
He said talks are currently being held with non-governmental organisations and civil societies groups to ensure the successful implementation of the nationwide immunisation programme.
As for a recent study published in the Lancet medical journal suggesting that Pfizer vaccines provided strong, one-dose protection instead of two, Khairy said Malaysia would stick to the recommended interval of 21 days between two doses as stipulated by the drugmaker.
The first phase of the immunisation programme, which is until April, will involve frontliners, followed by the second phase, which is from April to August, for high-risk groups, namely senior citizens aged 60 years and above and the vulnerable group with morbidity problems as well as Persons with Disabilities.
The third phase, which is from May until February next year, is for those aged 18 and above.
In November, Malaysia announced it had agreed to buy 12.8 million doses of the vaccine, with the first one million doses scheduled for the first quarter of this year. Deliveries of 1.7 million, 5.8 million and 4.3 million doses will follow in subsequent quarters.