Putrajaya Ends AstraZeneca Opt-In, All To Choose Covid-19 Vaccines

By Boo Su-Lyn | 27 May 2021

Khairy Jamaluddin says 956,609 slots for AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine were booked yesterday on May 26 among adults aged 18 and above, plus 275,208 earlier bookings among the elderly from May 23-25.

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KUALA LUMPUR, May 27 — The government has decided to cancel the opt-in stream for vaccination with AstraZeneca-Oxford’s Covid-19 vaccine by returning the shot to the mainstream inoculation programme.

Vaccine Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the previous two rounds of voluntary sign-ups for the AstraZeneca vaccine showed increased acceptance of the shot in Malaysia, after initial hesitancy due to international reports linking the vaccine to serious blood clots.

“I’m looking at a feature that we will give to the public soon, where the public can choose their vaccines through MySejahtera which we will upgrade soon,” Khairy told a virtual press conference today.

When asked if people would be allowed to book their appointment dates and desired coronavirus vaccine, and if there would be designated vaccination sites (PPV) according to the vaccine brand, Khairy said the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) was still working out the method.

“It will be done through MySejahtera,” Khairy said.

“We will be looking at how you choose your appointments, place, date, as well as vaccine. I think if anything, we want to make the process as easy as possible for people. So we’re working on a few options right now, we’ll probably announce that over the next couple of weeks on how people can choose the vaccine, the place, and also the date that they want.”

Khairy also said 956,609 AstraZeneca vaccination slots were booked yesterday during the chaotic booking process on the government’s website when bookings were opened to all adults aged 18 and above. Many had complained about difficulties of making a booking through the site.

Previously, from May 23 to 25, a total of 275,208 slots for the AstraZeneca vaccination were booked by those aged 60 and above.

“I understand the public anger and disappointment,” Khairy said, adding that the Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU) was investigating the problems with yesterday’s online booking process.

“As the minister responsible for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK), I apologise to all parties who had difficulties accessing the website to book the AstraZeneca vaccine for the second round yesterday, especially to those who were unsuccessful in getting their desired slots. 

“I don’t deny that the user experience caused many to be disappointed because of the weaknesses in the system to handle a high load of requests. It could have been much better executed.”

Khairy stressed that the maximum RM70 million allocated for the data integration system was not solely to develop the government’s Vaksincovid website, but also covered:

  • Management and monitoring of PICK’s progress
  • Dashboard on daily reporting of PICK’s progress
  • Integration system to link the MySejahtera database with the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) existing database
  • Vaccine registration portal development
  • System to track registrations, vaccinations, and development of Google Maps services in MySejahtera
  • Development of genomic surveillance and immunisation surveillance system
  • Procuring the management system of Q mobiles for PPVs
  • Integrating the MySejahtera passport system
  • System to manage the logistics and distribution of vaccines
  • Managing call centres
  • MyVac system to manage the mobilisation of volunteers in PICK
  • Sending SMSes and making phone calls for vaccination appointment reminders several times before the date of appointment

Khairy also denied claims on social media that Covid-19 vaccination was segregated based on race or religion, where Muslims only allegedly received the Pfizer-BioNTech shot and non-Muslims the Sinovac vaccine.

He explained that at the Desa Tasik Sports Complex PPV in Kuala Lumpur on May 24, where 946 individuals were vaccinated, 169 Muslims and 83 non-Muslims received the Pfizer vaccine, whereas 142 Muslims and 549 non-Muslims got the Sinovac shot.

The minister said 42 individuals, who were scheduled to go on Haj, had received the Pfizer shot on that date because of Saudi Arabia’s current decision to only accept Covid-19 vaccination with either Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines.

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