Walk-in jabs yet to pick up pace

Malaysians queueing at the lane for walk-in vaccination without prior appointment at the PPV in Setia SPICE Convention Centre, Penang, on the first day of the programme on Wednesday.

THE vaccination rate at walk-in vaccination centres (PPV) in Penang is low due to a weekday slump.

Each of the 10 walk-in PPVs has 500 doses prepared every day, but only around 50% of that were administered on the first day, which was Wednesday, said state health committee chairman Dr Norlela Ariffin.

“I believe the low turnout was due to the fact that most people work on weekdays and are unable to head to the PPV to be vaccinated.

“We expect the number on weekends to be higher,” she said.

Among the PPVs with the walk-in option, Pesta Site on the island was the most active with 450 doses given to walk-ins on the first day. In contrast, the PPV in Dewan Sungai Bakap saw only 100 doses administered to walk-ins.

Norlela also said the state Health Department has continued to accept Covid-19 test results from rapid antigen (RTK) tests rather than real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests as the daily tally of new cases.

This practice began late last month and it partly accounts for the rising number of daily cases in Penang.

“Only when the positivity rate is less than 10% will the state Health Department revert to the original protocol of using RT-PCR test results,” she said.

She said the number of sporadic cases in the community had overtaken the number of cases stemming from workplace clusters.

It was reported earlier that sporadic and close contact infections contributed to 35% and 40% of cases respectively this past week. Clusters comprised 24.8% of cases.

As for walk-in vaccinations, Setia SPICE Convention Centre PPV manager Dr Norhashimah Ismail said they are open from 10am to 6pm daily.

“The public can come within that time except during Friday prayers from 12.30pm to 2.30pm.

“On the first day of walk-in vaccinations on Wednesday, we administered 327 doses and 166 doses on the second day.

“Those who walk in are usually youths aged between 20 and 40 years old.

“A handful of foreign workers came but we had to turn them away,” she said.

A total of 2,481 individuals were vaccinated on the first day of the walk-in vaccination programme in Penang on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the privilege to walk in for vaccination is for all Malaysians in Penang.

He said the walk-in slots are for those aged 18 and above who have not received vaccination appointments or have not registered for vaccination.

“This is on a first-come, first-served basis based on the supply of doses and capacity at the centres.

“You must not be unwell or have had close contact with a Covid-19 patient.

“You must also not be under quarantine for Covid-19 reasons,” he said in a statement.

The centres on the island are Setia SPICE Convention Centre in Bayan Baru, Pesta Site in Sungai Nibong and Balik Pulau Sports Complex.

On the mainland, the PPVs are at Dewan Milenium and Perda Convention Centre in Tasek Gelugor, SP Arena, Seberang Jaya Expo Site and Vangohh Eminent Hotel in Machang Bubok, along with Dewan Sungai Bakap and Dewan Serbaguna Jawi in South Seberang Prai.

Penang has recorded a steady number of rising cases on the island since August.

The weekly average cases as of Thursday in Penang is 1,890.

The incidence rate in the state is 103.54 cases per 100,000 population which is the second highest among states after Sarawak.

As of yesterday, Penang has vaccinated 90.1% of its adult population with at least one dose and 66.3% of its adult population have received both doses of vaccine.

Meanwhile, state emergency response team chairman Phee Boon Poh announced yesterday that Penang will have a special three-digit emergency number for Covid-19 patients to call by next Wednesday to improve the response time of managing and monitoring such patients.

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