KUALA LUMPUR, March 29 — About two million elderly people and those with chronic conditions have registered for Covid-19 vaccination under the programme’s second phase that will start on April 19, Vaccine Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said today.
These vulnerable groups, including those with disabilities (OKU), who have signed up for the national Covid-19 vaccination programme will start receiving details of their appointments from April 5 through the MySejahtera app, phone calls, or SMSes.
The two million people comprise only about 22 per cent of the government’s target of vaccinating nine million in Phase Two of the national Covid-19 inoculation drive that targets those who are particularly vulnerable to developing severe disease or dying from Covid-19.
Khairy said the timeline for vaccinating the estimated two million people under Phase Two would be known in the next few days, after this number is confirmed and their geographical locations are identified.
“Once we’ve broken it down on geographical locations, we will know where and whether or not we need to open up bigger vaccination centres. Once we have clarity on that, I’ll let you know the timeline for Phase Two,” Khairy told a virtual press conference today on the national Covid-19 vaccination programme, in response to a question from CodeBlue.
The science, technology and innovation minister also stressed that prioritising the general public from Phase Three who have already signed up early on MySejahtera for Covid-19 vaccination did not mean that the government has “given up” on high-risk groups who have yet to register for their shots.
“Once they register into the MySejahtera system, there’s an algorithm that will push them to the top of the queue. The system will pick up if they’re above 60 or OKU, or that they have comorbidities, and immediately bump them up to the top of the queue because they’re part of Phase Two,” Khairy said.
“As long as supplies are sufficient, we will continue with those who registered early in Phase Three.”
When asked if people could jump the queue by lying in their MySejahtera vaccination registration about having chronic conditions, Khairy acknowledged that the app used an “honour system”, but pointed out that such people would be found out during pre-vaccination consultations.
“If I show up and I’m registered as ‘warga emas’, obviously they can be denied the vaccination at the point of vaccination. My view is that, please be honest about this,” said Khairy, adding that truthfulness about one’s health condition was also crucial for doctors to inform potential vaccine recipients about any possible adverse reactions.
He added that he would soon announce which economic sectors’ frontline workers would be prioritised for Covid-19 vaccination under Phase Two of the national rollout, after a few stakeholder engagements with industries were held.
The government, he said, would focus on companies that employ more than 5,000 workers, as well as on red areas reporting more than 40 new Covid-19 cases in the past fortnight where targeted industries are located.
Khairy also said he has discussed with the Home Ministry, the International Trade and Industry Ministry, and the Foreign Ministry on the vaccination of non-citizens living in Malaysia, such as both documented and undocumented immigrants, foreign students, and embassy staff.
He added that the government would work with Tabung Haji and prioritise haj pilgrims for Covid-19 vaccination if Saudi Arabia made this a requirement for Muslims undertaking their pilgrimage this year.
When asked if this was tantamount to discrimination against other vulnerable people who are not going on haj, Khairy said the government did not foresee a large number of Muslim pilgrims from Malaysia approved this year, due to restrictions like physical distancing during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
“So while we’re waiting for the numbers to increase in Phase Two, I believe there’ll be spare capacity to offer this to pilgrims.”