PETALING JAYA: The National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme will begin on Wednesday, two days ahead of schedule.
It was initially scheduled to roll out on Friday.
Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who gave the latest update, said Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin would set the ball rolling by being the first to be vaccinated at Klinik Kesihatan Putrajaya after chairing the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
Next would be Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, he added.
“We can begin making early preparations to start the immunisation programme following the arrival of the vaccine.
“The decision is to bring forward the start of the programme, ” he told a press conference at Kuala Lumpur International Airport following the arrival of the first batch of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines yesterday.
Also present were Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong and Dr Noor Hisham.
Asked why the start of the immunisation programme was brought forward, Khairy said this was done after considering several factors with regard to the safety and distribution of the vaccine.
“Instead of waiting until Friday, the Prime Minister agreed that the immunisation against Covid-19 can begin on Wednesday, ” he said.
Khairy said the first batch of 312,390 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines would be administered to 271,802 frontliners, 57.3% of whom would comprise medical personnel and the rest non-medical frontliners.
He said the first batch of vaccines was to be distributed to 16 vaccine storage centres yesterday – four in Johor, two in Penang, six in Selangor, three in Kuala Lumpur and one in Putrajaya.
He said the remaining Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines would arrive in batches every fortnightly.
Khairy also said the government would continue with its two-dose policy under the immunisation programme although a study showed that a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine had up to 85% efficacy against the virus.
“But we have yet to study the data on this and the Covid-19 vaccine committee has decided to remain with the two-dose policy, ” he said.
He said the second dose would be administered 21 days after the first one as recommended by the vaccine manufacturer.
The Pfizer vaccines will be sufficient to immunise some 50% of the country’s population.
As of February, Malaysia has access to a supply of 66.7 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines through the Covax Facility and early purchases from five manufacturers.
The programme will involve the immunisation of 70% of the population under three phases, starting with frontliners from now till April.
The second phase is from April to August for those in high-risk groups, while the third phase from May to February 2022 are for adults aged 18 and above.