Sarawak Wants More Doses Amid High Covid-19 Vaccination Rate

Sarawak Heart Centre and Sarawak General Hospital each have about 20% vaccine-hesitant staff, says Dr Sim Kui Hian.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 11 — The Sarawak government has requested additional Covid-19 vaccine deliveries from Putrajaya, with the state recording the seventh highest vaccination rate in Malaysia.

As of March 10, Sarawak, with the fourth biggest population in the country, has inoculated about 1 per cent of its residents. Sarawak has administered 28,194 first doses, the most in the country. The top Covid-19 vaccination rates are reported in Putrajaya that has vaccinated about 3 per cent of its population, followed by Labuan, Perlis, Kuala Lumpur, Pahang, Terengganu, and Sarawak.

“Sarawak is ready to do as fast, as soon and as many as possible. Just allocate us more vaccines, especially in the outbreak districts,” Sarawak Local Government and Housing Minister Dr Sim Kui Hian told CodeBlue yesterday.

Sarawak currently has 12 red districts with more than 40 new Covid-19 cases reported in the past fortnight: Serian, Bau, Subis, Julau, Selangau, Betong, Meradong, Kuching, Kapit, Bintulu, Miri, and Sibu.

When asked how many additional doses the Sarawak state government was asking for, Dr Sim said: “Just give us as much as they can give.”

“We have proven the capability and capacity to get the task done.”

So far, Sarawak has received two shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine totalling 58,400 doses. Dr Sim said the second dose of vaccines are currently kept in Sarawak.

“Not sure MOH (Ministry of Health) and medical experts thought of everyone one dose and delayed second dose?”

MOH has thus far maintained the recommended dosing interval of three weeks between the first and second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. The UK, unlike other countries, delays the second dose by up to three months.

The state minister also said private health care providers in Sarawak were “eager to come on board” the national Covid-19 vaccination programme.

Dr Sim said on March 6 that by the next day, Klinik Kesihatan Batu Kawa would vaccinate 100 per cent of its staff with the first dose. Sarawak Heart Centre would have about 80 per cent of 800 staff inoculated, with the remaining needing to be convinced to get the jab.

Sarawak General Hospital (SGH), he said, would have about 70 per cent of 4,800 staff vaccinated. Dr Sim told CodeBlue yesterday he was informed that SGH had about 15 to 20 per cent vaccine-hesitant staff, down from 30 per cent.

He explained that Sarawak, the geographically biggest state in the country, managed to administer Covid-19 vaccines quickly as the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) coordinates all agencies, such as the police, resident and district offices, and works closely with the Sarawak state health department. The SDMC manages similar coordination at the divisional level.

Dr Sim also pointed out that Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Abang Openg previously announced that the Sarawak state government would allocate RM30 million to assist the state health department and federal government on Covid-19 and the vaccine rollout.

A total of 223,923 individuals nationwide have received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine as of March 10, some 45 per cent of an estimated 500,000 frontliners, including health care workers, targeted for inoculation in the first phase of the national vaccination programme. This translates to only 0.7 per cent of the Malaysian population that have received their first dose as of yesterday.

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