KUALA LUMPUR, April 28 — Malaysia’s declining Covid-19 vaccine registrations, while not even half of the population have signed up, are not a cause for concern yet, said Dr Adham Baba.
Health Minister Dr Adham, who co-chairs the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF), said people still have a wait-and-see mentality, expressing belief that more people will sign up for inoculation when Phase Three of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK) rolls out for the general public.
“This is evident as percentage of target population registered for age 60 and more is higher than percentage of target population registered for age 18 to 59,” Dr Adham told CodeBlue, without specifying the figures.
“While we must continue to sign people up, there is no need to push the alarm button until we think demand will be the constraint.”
The national Covid-19 inoculation drive has started Phase Two for high-risk groups, targeting 9.4 million people aged 60 and above, those with chronic diseases, and people with disabilities.
Dr Adham was responding to CodeBlue’s report last week that pointed out Malaysia’s weekly Covid-19 vaccine registration rates have continuously declined from the week of March 23 to 29 to the week of April 13 to 19.
Between April 20 and April 26, the weekly vaccine registration rate dropped again, by 54.8 per cent, to 254,069 registrations that week compared to the previous week. In the week of March 23 to 29, nearly four times more people (992,805) had signed up for Covid-19 inoculation.
“The Ministry of Health (MOH) and CITF do take note of the declining numbers of new Covid-19 vaccine registration for the past few weeks,” Dr Adham said.
“However, looking solely at the weekly registration trend is not an accurate way to view reception of the public. Naturally, the pace will drop as more and more people register.”
However, the month-long decline in registrations for jabs comes even as only 9.3 million people have registered as of April 26, just 38.3 per cent of the population. The government targets to vaccinate 25.6 million adults, or 80 per cent of Malaysia’s 32-million population.
Dr Adham also pointed out that currently Malaysia is still facing constraints in vaccine supplies. Previously, Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said that Malaysia will only be receiving more vaccine doses from June onwards.
The health minister said the government is currently ramping up promotional activities to encourage people to register for the vaccine either through MySejahtera, the Covid-19 Vaccine Supply Access Committee (JKJAV) website, Covid-19 hotline, or even manual registrations at health clinics.
“These vaccination registration drives have also been done at the ground level for people living in rural areas, who might have difficulty to register through MySejahtera application or (have) connectivity issues,” Dr Adham added.
“With these efforts, and the start of Phase Two vaccination and soon Phase Three, the rate of vaccination registration will increase.”