Penang drops plan to buy own vaccines, to depend fully on National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said NIP coordinating minister Khairy Jamaluddin assured the state that sufficient vaccine doses will be channeled to the state. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said NIP coordinating minister Khairy Jamaluddin assured the state that sufficient vaccine doses will be channeled to the state. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

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GEORGE TOWN, June 7 — The Penang state government will no longer try to purchase its own Covid-19 vaccines after it was convinced that vaccine supplies under the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NIP) will no longer be an issue.

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said NIP coordinating minister Khairy Jamaluddin assured the state that sufficient vaccine doses will be channeled to the state.

“The state government feels that vaccine supplies is no longer an issue so we will depend on the federal government’s vaccine supplies to reach our target of completing the NIP for Penang by October,” he said in a press conference after visiting the mass Covid-19 vaccination centre (PPV) for AstraZeneca at Spice Arena here.

Chow said there will now be a total seven private hospitals that are approved as PPVs for the NIP where each hospital will be giving out 50 to 200 doses per day depending on the hospital’s capacity.

Other than the hospitals, a total 13 general practitioner clinics have also been identified as PPVs and each clinic will be giving out between 36 to 90 doses per day depending on the respective clinic’s capacity.

“The rate of vaccination now is between 5,000 and 10,000 people per day and we aim to reach the target of completing the vaccination by October,” he said.

He said to reach the aim of completing the full NIP, the state was looking at increasing the number of doses given out per day to between 25,000 and 30,000 per day.

However, he said this will depend on the availability of PPVs and volunteers so that the whole vaccination process can be sped up.

“We will need to look at the resources available and if we can speed it up, we hope to do better than reaching the target by October, maybe September, we just need to work on the logistics of it and drive-through vaccination will be an option too,” he said.

Special Advisor to the Prime Minister of Malaysia on Public Health Tan Sri Jemilah Mahmood, who was also present, said drive-through vaccination could be considered for the administration of second doses.

“It would be easier for those receiving their second doses as they have already signed their consent forms so it will be faster too,” she said.

She said more than 60 per cent of Penang residents have registered for the NIP but it would be better if it reaches more than 80 per cent of the population. 

She said the state can increase its vaccination rate by roping in general practitioners and opening up more PPVs in the state.

Currently, there are two PPVs in each of the state’s five districts and additional PPVs will be opening up at seven private hospitals, namely, Lam Wah Ee Hospital, Loh Guan Lye Specialist Centre, Pantai Hospital, Penang Adventist Hospital, Gleneagles Medical Centre and Optimax Eye Specialist Hospital. 

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