KOTA KINABALU, June 23 — The villagers of Kampung Sonsogon Magandai, a remote village about three hours’ drive on a stretch of unpaved and near impassable roads, may be far from major cities, but they were among the first on the government’s outreach programme for Covid 19 vaccination.

Some 300 villagers were identified for the vaccination, spread out over five villages in the hilly area where the Kota Marudu Health Department and a group of doctors, nurses and volunteers from non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have been sent for three days to administer the vaccination.

"There are over 700 villagers from eight villages, scattered within this hilly area. Of the figure, some 300 will be vaccinated in this mukim, for now," said Minister in the Prime Minister's Department for Sabah and Sarawak Affairs Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili, who was there for the launch of the programme at Kampung Sungai Magandai.

"The response has been a bit slow but encouraging, and we hope more will come forward tomorrow and the day after," he said.

The northern district of Kota Marudu, like most parts of Sabah, has a low MySejahtera registration rate.

Some 16,565 people out of 55,100 eligible people, or just over 30 per cent, have registered for the vaccination programme via MySejahtera.

Of those, 1,949 were fully vaccinated while 6,384 have received at least their first dose.

Ongkili, who is also the Kota Marudu member of Parliament, said the on-going vaccination campaign was aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19, and eventually end the pandemic in Malaysia.

"Although the vaccine is not an antidote, at least it builds our antibodies to fight against the deadly virus. We need to protect ourselves first to protect others.

"So do not be afraid of the vaccine. It saves lives," he said.

Sabah’s vaccination was proportionately behind other states in the country. As of yesterday, just over four per cent have been fully vaccinated while some 11 per cent have received one dose.

It also has the country's lowest MySejahtera registration rate at 29.7 per cent.

Sabah aims to inoculate 2.9 million people by the end of the year.

The state government has said it was optimistic of achieving this target once the vaccination programme reaches a rate of 30,000 vaccinations per day starting next month.

Currently, the rate is about 10,000 vaccinations per day.