KUALA LUMPUR, May 28 — The federal government said it is prioritising Sarawak for Covid-19 vaccination to be the first state to complete its inoculation drive due to the impending state election.
According to Vaccine Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, Sarawak will receive 4.4 million doses of two-dose coronavirus vaccines to inoculate its entire 2.2 million adult population by the end of August, at an estimated rate of 45,000 daily shots to the arm.
From May 1 to May 27, however, Sarawak reported 94 Covid-19 deaths, more than three times fewer than Selangor’s 309 fatalities.
Khairy explained that Sarawak is required by law to hold its state election within 60 days should the Emergency Ordinance in the country end on August 1 as scheduled.
“If the state of Sarawak is not fully vaccinated by the time they have their state election, then not only the state of Sarawak, but the entire country of Malaysia is at risk of another wave and we cannot afford that,” Khairy told a joint press conference with Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Amar Douglas Uggah Embas in Kuching today.
The federal minister cited the Covid-19 crisis in Sabah sparked by its state election last September that spread to the entire country.
“So it is not a political matter or preference, rather it is a legal requirement for Sarawak to have its election 60 days after the Emergency is lifted.”
CodeBlue had asked Khairy if it was a political move for the federal government to prioritise Sarawak for Covid-19 vaccination — due to its state election — despite Selangor recording far more Covid-19 fatalities this month than Sarawak.
“Our commitment to the Sarawak state government does not in any way take away the vaccines that we plan to deliver to the other states,” Khairy said.
“I can give my assurance to the people in Klang Valley that we will also be picking up the pace for vaccination in Selangor and in Kuala Lumpur, especially in Selangor which is Ground Zero for Covid infections right now.”
He highlighted that this move was not driven by political will, but purely a legal requirement and a much needed public health measure.
It is to be noted that Selangor has the second-lowest Covid-19 vaccination coverage of its targeted population despite having the biggest targeted population (adults aged 18 and above), highest GDP, second highest vaccine registration rate, and second highest Covid-19 incidence rate.
Khairy said that the country will start to receive a huge supply of Covid-19 vaccines from June onwards and vaccine delivery will be ramped up as well.
“On the first of June, we estimate that a total of 380,000 doses of vaccines will be sent to Sarawak. Every week, vaccines will be sent to Sarawak until we reach 4.4 million doses by the end of August,” Khairy added.
The science, technology and innovation minister also noted that Sarawak should speed up their vaccination rate to 45,000 jabs per day in order to vaccinate all Sarawakian adults by the end of August.
So he added that more focus will be given to increasing new vaccination centres, as well as expanding manpower capacities, including medical and non-medical personnel.
At the same time, Khairy also highlighted the possibility of opening up industrial vaccination centres to vaccinate the labour force in Sarawak– another initiative to speed up the vaccination process in the state, besides increasing vaccination booths in private clinics and hospitals.
“We will also engage a mobile outreach team who will go to interior areas of Sarawak, long houses and other places to explain the target that we have set, so that they won’t be left out from the vaccination process.”
In Sarawak, a mainly rural state, a hybrid Covid-19 vaccine registration method will be implemented. That will allow Sarawakians to register for Covid-19 vaccines through the federal MySejahtera application or manually, to quicken the vaccination process, especially among those who don’t have digital devices or internet facilities.
Khairy also said that he will visit all the states in Malaysia to ensure the federal government’s commitment in vaccinating Malaysians.