KUALA LUMPUR, March 1 — The second phase of the national Covid-19 vaccination programme will target clusters and high-risk areas to help reduce virus transmission, Dr Adham Baba said today.
The health minister said these groups and areas with high Covid-19 prevalence were originally placed in the fourth phase of the inoculation drive, before they were brought forward to the second phase that also targets people aged above 60 and those with underlying medical conditions.
“We are providing protection to them and our aim to protect those in the affected areas is also another way to protect high-risk populations,” Dr Adham told a joint press meeting with Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.
Besides that, Dr Adham stated that the Covid-19 immunisation programme will also cover areas that are difficult to reach, as there is potential among people there to cause new Covid-19 outbreaks, without elaborating further.
The health minister did not specify which high-risk areas with coronavirus clusters would get vaccine shots in the second phase of the inoculation drive, after the first phase for frontline workers like health care providers and law enforcement.
Most of the reported Covid-19 clusters have broken out in workplaces, including factories. These clusters comprise both Malaysian and foreign workers. Coronavirus outbreaks also occur regularly in prisons and detention centres.
Khairy, at the same press conference, said the national Covid-19 vaccination programme aims to reduce the hospitalisation rate and burden on the health care system.
“The first outcome that we want to see is, of course, cutting down hospitalisation rates and relieving the health care system,” Khairy said.
“Because those are the outcomes that are available for clinical data as concerned. So we want to try to cut down death, cut down hospitalisation, cut down the severe outcomes of Covid-19.”
He did not specify exact goals. The Ministry of Health (MOH) has not published data on the proportion of Covid-19 cases in stages one to five of disease. Although Malaysia has a very low case fatality rate compared to other countries, the death rate has risen here. A total of 471 people died from Covid-19 by last December 31. In just two months since, the virus killed 659 people in Malaysia.
The secondary objective is to reduce the Covid-19 transmission rate, Khairy said, with a focus on high-risk areas in the second phase of the vaccination programme.
Khairy also stated that other countries have cut down their Covid-19 transmission rates by implementing an effective vaccination programme using the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.