INTERACTIVE: When to expect your Covid-19 vaccine shots, and everything else you need to know about Malaysia’s vaccination programme

PETALING JAYA: With the country’s Covid-19 vaccination programme set to rollout from March, many Malaysians are wondering when they can expect to get their shots.

According to Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, Malaysia's Covid-19 vaccination programme will focus on protecting those who are most vulnerable, with about 500,000 health and security frontliners to be the first to each receive a 1 ml dose of the eagerly awaited vaccine.

The second phase of vaccination will involve senior citizens, the disabled and people with chronic illnesses who can all expect to receive their vaccinations by the second quarter of this year.

This all adds up to about 21% of Malaysia's population who can expect to receive their vaccinations by the first half of this year.

For the rest of the country’s population, healthy adults under 60 who are not frontline workers can expect their turn by the third quarter of this year or later.

To find out where you are in the vaccine queue, take the quiz below:

For the country’s vaccination to be truly effective, it must lead to widespread direct protection or herd immunity, said Universiti Malaya epidemiologist Prof Datuk Dr Awang Bulgiba Awang Mahmud.

"This will take some time to occur because the vaccinations will take time," he said.

Dr Awang Bulgiba, who is Head of the Independent COVID-19 Vaccination Advisory Committee (a MOSTI appointment), said Malaysia needs a vaccination target of 80% to achieve herd immunity and this high proportion means vaccinating some children under 16 years of age.

"Vaccinating children under 16 years of age will mean waiting for Phase 3 trials to be completed in this age group but this move has started in some vaccines.

"The government seems to agree with this and have stated that it is trying to get enough vaccines to cover 82.8% of the population," he said.

With Malaysia’s population is currently estimated at 32.7 million according to the Department of Statistics, 82.8% population vaccine coverage would mean that 27.08 million people in the country need to get their shots.

To vaccinate this many people would take between 500 to 1,000 vaccination centres working fulltime for 300 to 500 days, said Dr Awang Bulgiba.

"However, we might not need to wait that long to see a sustained reduction in cases if non-pharmaceutical interventions continue to be strictly followed but that is also dependent on many other factors," he added.

Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy said the government plans to vaccinate 75,000 people a day across 600 vaccination sites nationwide from March, according to health news portal CodeBlue.

Depending on the supply, the government plans to increase this to 150,000 shots a day, which will include the second dose of vaccination, he told the portal in an interview.

Khairy added that the vaccination efforts will also target areas with a high number of Covid-19 cases, such as detention centres and areas with migrant workers. This last group has been categorised as a vulnerable group as many such workers live in confined spaces, he said.

The MySejahtera mobile app will be used to register those who are eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine and it will also be used to monitor them after vaccination to see if they suffer any adverse effects.

Malaysia expects to secure enough vaccine to involve 80% of the population by the first quarter of next year.

Malaysia has so far signed agreements to buy for 12.8mil vaccine doses manufactured by U.S. and German drugmakers Pfizer and BioNTech, which is scheduled to arrive by the end of next month.

With two doses needed to vaccinate each person, the 12.8 million doses can cover 6.4mil people or 19.6% of Malaysia's population.

Malaysia also plans to buy an additional 12.2 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which is enough for another 6mil people.

Since the Pfizer vaccine requires extreme cold storage, it is likely that they will be given to people in urban areas as these are where suitable storage facilities are mainly available.

Those in rural areas are meanwhile likely to receive vaccines from other manufacturers that do not require extreme cold storage.

For those worried whether the vaccines can protect against the newer variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19, two preliminary studies earlier this month found that the Pfizer vaccine was effective in protecting against the the B.1.1.7 virus variant which was first detected in the United Kingdom and which threw the country into lockdown due to its high infection rate.

Malaysia has since only identified one known case of the variant UK B.1.1.7 on a person who had a travel history to the United Kingdom in December last year.

As of Jan 11, there have been no other infections linked to the variant in Malaysia.

Malaysia is also buying 6.4 million doses of the AstraZeneca's ASD1222 Covid-19 vaccine, which is expected to be delivered to the country in the first half of 2021.

The Astrazeneca Oxford vaccine does not require cold storage, which will likely make it easier to transport to rural areas.

Pharmaniaga Bhd will supply Malaysia with 12 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine developed by China's Sinovac Life Sciences Co Ltd, while Duopharma Biotech Bhd 6.4 million doses of Sputnik V.

This brings the total number of doses to 49.8 million, which can cover doses for 24.9 million (76.1%) of the country's population.

In addition, the government is in final negotiations with CanSino to secure a vaccine supply increase to cover more than 80% or 26.5 million of the country's total population by the first quarter of next year.

Vaccines other than those made by Pfizer will mostly be used in the second and third phase of the vaccination rollout.

Depending on the type of vaccine, Malaysians can expect to receive the second dose between two to four weeks after vaccination.

Find out the details in the table below:

Other countries have started its vaccination to the people as early as December last year, with Israel having vaccinated almost 33% of its population and United Arab Emirates about 26% of its population.

As of Jan 27, the United States has administered the largest number of vaccine to its population, at 24.65 million doses, followed by China at 22.77 million.

A total of 82.48 million doses of Covid-19 vaccinations have been administered in 64 countries worldwide.

Find out below which group of people are receiving Covid-19 vaccines in every country and the total share of its population which has already received at least one shot of the vaccine.

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