KUALA LUMPUR, May 3 — The government will expand registration for AstraZeneca-Oxford’s Covid-19 vaccine to those without internet access in the coming rollouts, Khairy Jamaluddin said today.
The vaccine minister, at a National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK) press conference today, said that 268,600 appointment bookings for the AstraZeneca jab opened yesterday online was restricted to those living in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor.
“Going forward in designing the AstraZeneca programme further, we will take into account people who are unable to access the website. We will reach out to our community clinics to ensure that we can offer this on a voluntary basis to people who may not have access,” Khairy said.
“This is just the first batch of AstraZeneca. We wanted to try and see whether or not there would be demand and we wanted to do it as quickly as possible.”
Khairy urged Sarawak to reconsider its decision to decline the AstraZeneca shot, even as the federal government plans to expand the AstraZeneca vaccine opt-in voluntary stream to other states.
The vaccine minister said that this month, 1.1 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine will be shipped to Malaysia, 610,000 doses in June, 410,000 doses in July, and 1.2 million doses between August and September.
Last week, amid hesitancy surrounding the AstraZeneca vaccine due to reports of rare blood clots linked to the shot in the UK and Europe, the Malaysian government decided to allow people to voluntarily register for the AstraZeneca vaccine, as a parallel opt-in programme to PICK.
With PICK, recipients cannot choose their desired Covid-19 vaccine and will be given either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Sinovac shot — both vaccines are currently available in Malaysia, while other vaccines procured by the government are either not yet available or approved by regulators.
“The whole reason for having the opt-in for the AstraZeneca vaccine was due to the vaccine hesitancy towards this particular brand of Covid-19 vaccine and this was seen in 8,000 cancellations of vaccination registrations in MySejahtera,” the science, technology, and innovation minister said.
“After we announced the carve-out and opt-in programme of AstraZeneca, about 80 per cent of people who cancelled their registration on MySejahtera, re-registered for their vaccination appointment.”
Yesterday, within three and a half hours, all 268,600 appointment slots for the AstraZeneca vaccine were filled after registrations opened.
The science, technology, and innovation minister also said that the government has recruited private general practitioners through ProtectHealth Corporation, a fully-owned company by the Ministry of Health, to handle the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccination centres.
“We have brought in the private clinics to handle the AstraZeneca vaccination centres under Protect Health, a subsidiary of the Ministry of Health, to elect Qualitas, BP Health Care, UMI, Qmed, CT Health Group as general practitioners that will handle the AstraZeneca vaccination centres.”
Khairy also pointed out that currently, out of the 1,938,660 vaccine doses available, 1,453,382 doses have been injected into arms, translating to a utilisation rate of 75 per cent.