Covid 19: More individuals to be vaccinated next month

The move is made to fill a number of empty slots for the inoculation programme due to low registration of the targeted group


INDIVIDUALS with no critical illness may be vaccinated earlier than scheduled, as the government is expected to add more categories in the second phase of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NICP).

Science, Technology and Innovation (Mosti) Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar (picture; left), who is also the NICP coordinating minister, said the move was made to fill a number of empty slots for the inoculation programme due to low registration of the targeted group.

“Among the group that will be considered in the phase is from the ‘economic frontliners’,” Khairy said.

“As the registration of the targeted group is still low, we have decided to give this shot to another category such as the economic frontliners, as well as other groups that have been identified by the Special Committee for Covid-19 Vaccine Supply,” Khairy said in a joint press conference with Selangor Mentri Besar (MB) Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari (right) in Shah Alam, Selangor, yesterday.

However, the Mosti minister said the government is still prioritising vulnerable groups who should receive their jab from next month.

Khairy said he will divulge more details on the additional categories next Monday.

The NICP began on Feb 24 targeting 500,000 frontliners in the health sector and essential services, including in the defence and security sector.

Phase 1 of NICP is expected to be concluded next month.

The government is now preparing for the rollout of the second stage, which is scheduled from April to August this year.

However, slow registration rate was said to be stalling the progress, as data shared by Health DG Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah stated that the registration rate only covers less than 30% of Malaysia’s population who are aged 18 and above.

Currently, Selangor has the highest rate of Covid-19 vaccine registration after Kuala Lumpur, with 38.1% of its population, or 1.85 million individuals registered with the programme.

“It is a good indicator for Selangor as it is also higher than the national rate of 26.6%,” Khairy said.

In his meeting with the MB, Khairy said the federal and state administrations agreed to focus the next phase of the NICP on the industrial sector as Selangor is the key enabler to the nation’s economy.

“Selangor is still reporting high cases of Covid-19 especially in industrial areas.

“So, we will speed up the distribution in these areas with priority given to factories with huge workforces,” Khairy said, adding that the inoculation would be done at the worksite or at staff hostels.

Meanwhile, Selangor is expected to complete its Phase 1 of NICP soon, as more than 83% of frontlines in Selangor have received their first dose of the vaccine.

Amirudin said the state government is waiting for another 4,000 individuals to be vaccinated before the Phase 1 concludes at the end of April.

Going forward, to ensure a better take up from those who reside in Selangor in the next phases, Amirudin said the state will immediately enrol more face-to-face programmes with the public to promote the vaccination programme.

The outreach programmes will be moved by the state officials and NGOs besides the support from federal agencies.

On the self procurement of vaccines by Selangor, Amirudin said the process is still ongoing, noting that the state needs time to identify mechanisms to enrol such initiative to ensure a smooth distribution processes.

“We are looking at the five types of vaccines listed by the federal government, and we are about to finish on the procurement stage.

“It must be noted that this initiative is not to jeopardise the whole vaccination plan. When we procure, it will go back to the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force to be streamlined,” he said.

“Our concern is not only that we have many patients and senior citizens with critical illness but we have a huge industry with three million active workers in Selangor who are the backbone to the state economy and the national income as a whole,” Amirudin added.

Khairy said Putrajaya is ready to facilitate the additional purchase of Covid-19 vaccine by Selangor.

Read our previous report here

Khairy: Low vaccine registration due to ‘wait-and-see’ approach