INTERACTIVE: How is Malaysia’s Covid-19 vaccination plan progressing? Find out here

FRONTLINERS FIRST: A Staff Nurse getting the Covid-19 vaccine jab at the Petra Jaya health clinic as the first phase of Sarawak's vaccination programme gets underway on Feb 26. ZULAZHAR SHEBLEE/The Star

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s Covid-19 vaccination rate could ramp up even further with more vaccines coming and steady progress shown so far.

A total of 249,909 jabs have been administered since the start of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme on Feb 24 to March 11.

The number of doses given out in the second week of the programme has nearly tripled to 142,636 compared to 53,287 during the first week.

Here’s a closer look at how the states and federal territories are progressing:

Frontliners are currently being vaccinated in the programme’s first phase that will end next month.

The second phase from April to August this year will involve high-risk groups and those aged 60 and above.

The rest of the Malaysian population aged 18 years and above will be vaccinated in the third phase, which is from May 2021 to February 2022.

There are various reasons why some states or federal territories are recording more vaccinations than others.

Some started vaccinating on different dates, and each has a different number of frontliners, who are the only people receiving the vaccine in the current phase of the programme.

For instance, the federal territory of Labuan, despite its relatively small size and population, was in the lead on March 4 in terms of the percentage of frontliners vaccinated according to a Bernama report.

Another reason for optimism about the country's vaccination programme is the increasing registration rate for vaccinations via the MySejahtera app following a slower than-expected-pace initially.

Malaysia has bought a total of 66.7 million vaccine doses, enough to cover 109.65% of the country’s estimated 32.7 million population.

Assoc Prof Dr Mohd Ghows Mohd Azzam, Science Advisor to the Science, Technology and Innovation Minister, said Malaysia’s vaccination rate will increase with more vaccines arriving.

“We will receive the finished Sinovac vaccine on March 15, and the target is to complete phase 1 by April as described in the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme document,” he said.

The country is currently administering the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine, which requires two doses at a three-week interval.

Since the vaccination programme began Feb 24, the second dose would be due to be administered from March 17 onwards.

Would this lead to a bottleneck in vaccinations once people start coming in for their second dose?

"All of this has been taken into account. The second dose will not create a bottleneck, it will increase the vaccination rate," said Dr Mohd Ghows.

Universiti Putra Malaysia medical epidemiologist Assoc Prof Dr Malina Osman also believes that the daily vaccination rate could see an increase with the arrival of more vaccines.

"The recent announcement to involve private hospitals or clinics (as vaccination centres) could further increase the country's vaccination rate," she said.

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