Early target for herd immunity

IF all goes well, Penang could achieve Covid-19 herd immunity earlier than expected, with 70% or 1.38 million people, getting vaccinated by August.

State health committee chairman Dr Norlela Ariffin said the present vaccination of 14,814 daily doses this month would be ramped up to 35,165 doses next month and 35,572 doses in August.

She said 103,627 targeted recipients had obtained the first dose while 73,607 more recipients had obtained both doses in the state as of June 3.

Dr Norlela said a comprehensive plan would be presented at the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) meeting today.

“All our systems are in place to attain this. At the meeting, we will present our preparation to achieve our target.

“These proposals were discussed at an earlier CITF meeting.

“A lot of background work has been done and we already have a plan for the implementation,” she said.

Dr Norlela said the decentralisation of vaccine administration would be key to achieving the goal.

She said two more vaccine-dispensing centres (PPV) would be set up at Penang Pesta site today and Seberang Jaya expo site on June 14, while three more at Dewan Balai Rakyat Bayan Baru, Pusat Konvensyen Perda and Dewan Serbaguna Sungai Bakap were in the pipeline.

She added that for now, Penang has one mega PPV at Setia SPICE Arena and five PPVs located at Caring Society Complex, Balik Pulau Sports Complex, Dewan Millenium, Dewan Serbaguna Jawi and Seberang Prai Arena Convention Centre.

Norlela said PPVs had also been set up in three private hospitals yesterday.

They are Lam Wah Ee Hospital, Pantai Hospital and KPJ Hospital, while another three in LohGuanLye Specialists Centre, Penang Adventist Hospital and Gleneagles Hospital are expected to begin operation on June 14.

“Increasing the number of PPVs will accelerate the vaccination process.

“Vaccine supply should not be an issue as the state will get two million vaccines in June and July.

“The Health Ministry is supportive of our pro-active approach in the vaccination process.

“They have promised to deploy trainee nurses and doctors, final-year medical students, retired nurses and hospital staff.

“Administrating the vaccination dosage is not a very difficult task and most of them could be of great help in the process.

“Some 500 general practitioners will be on board in the planned PPVs,” she said.

Norlela said she would also propose for drive-through PPVs to be set up at Mydin Perda in Bukit Mertajam and the State Stadium in Batu Kawan.

“The stadium can be used as an industrial PPV with company employees working in the zone going there for vaccination. They do not have to crowd at the existing PPVs.

“The proposal also includes using parking lots of Ikea Batu Kawan, Lotus’s (formerly Tesco Extra) Seberang Jaya and several big malls as PPVs.

“We have also proposed for the closed Equatorial Hotel Penang to be turned into a vaccination centre which can be used by company workers in the industrial zone.

“Both the Malaysia Semiconductor Industry Association and Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) are on board for the plan.

“FMM has 320 small-and-medium-scale industry members who employ fewer than 1,500 people.

“And with more PPVs, more of these people can be vaccinated,” she said.

For large manufacturers, Norlela said on-site vaccinations would be implemented, with preparation being handled by the companies themselves.

She said Penang is a small state, and should be able to achieve the targeted vaccination figures as planned.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow had earlier said that the state was looking at achieving herd immunity by October.

He said the three challenges were the number of PPVs, vaccine supply and manpower.

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