KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 18 — Muhyiddin Yassin today set a near impossible target of one year to vaccinate more than 80 per cent of the Malaysian population against Covid-19 by March 2022.
The prime minister said the first vaccination groups are expected to receive their shots in early March this year and that the national Covid-19 vaccination programme is expected to cover nearly 27 million residents of Malaysia’s 32-million population by the first quarter of 2022.
According to this timeline, 2.25 million people must be vaccinated each month from March. Public health workers inoculate fewer than 500,000 babies and children under the National Immunisation Programme annually.
“Realistically, this vaccination programme is expected to run in stages throughout the entirety of its 12-month schedule,” Muhyiddin said in a speech today on the government’s new economic stimulus package, the Malaysian Economic and Rakyat Protection Assistance Package (Permai).
“I am pleased to announce that the planning for our vaccination programme is on-track. The government has signed three agreements with vaccine developers, and we’re expected to receive the first vaccine supplies by the end of February later,” he added, reiterating that RM3 billion has been allocated for coronavirus vaccine procurement.
Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said last January 14 that Malaysia’s Covid-19 vaccination plan would span 18 months.
“While we will try our best to get as many people vaccinated within one year, we want to be prudent in our timeline,” he wrote.
According to Khairy, the first million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, a two-dose regimen, will arrive in Malaysia by the first quarter of this year, 1.7 million doses in the second quarter, 5.8 million doses in the third quarter, and 4.3 million doses in the fourth quarter.
“Frontline workers from the healthcare and security sectors will go first. Then senior citizens and people with chronic illnesses. Only then we will move on to the general population in order to get to meaningful herd immunity threshold. If you are a healthy adult under 60 and not a frontline worker, it is safe to assume that your turn will come by Q3 or after.”
Muhyiddin also announced today that the government would add more than 3,000 health workers for the Ministry of Health (MOH) to start work from the end of the month, based on an extra allocation of RM150 million. These health workers comprise assistant medical officers, paramedics, lab technicians, and nurses.
This is on top of the 8,000 additional health workers for MOH approved last year.
“I guarantee, if there is a future need and to mobilise the incoming immunisation programme, the government is prepared to take in additional workers.”
He added that the government has allocated an additional RM1 billion, with nearly RM800 million going to MOH, and the remaining to the National Security Council and related agencies.
“This allocation is focused on supplies, including reagents and test kits, as well as PPE (personal protective equipment), especially for health workers.”
Muhyiddin also announced that the one-off RM500 payment for all health frontliners and one-off RM300 payment to other frontliners, as announced in the tabling of Budget 2021, would start to be paid in the first quarter of this year.
The current RM600 special Covid-19 allowance for health frontliners, as well as RM200 allowance for other frontliners, would continue until the end of the Covid-19 pandemic.