AstraZeneca round 2: Good to vaccinate senior citizens but faster rollout overall needed, say Malaysians

PETALING JAYA: The move to prioritise those aged 60 and above in Covid-19 red zones for the second round of opt-ins for the AstraZeneca vaccine is well-received by Malaysians.

However, many have also said the second rollout could be improved as the first successful round of registrations for Klang Valley residents on May 2 saw all 268,000 slots snapped up in just three hours.

Facebook user Cammy Yong said,"Very good decision. A quick Google will show this is what many countries are doing with the AstraZeneca vaccine. At this point, as long as we get vulnerable people vaccinated, it's a win."

"Good strategy to target the hotspot areas! Well done!" wrote Facebook user Christopher Kim.

Another Facebook user, Nik Huang, said while it was a good decision to prioritise senior citizens and red zones, the rollout of Sinovac – which is offered in the mainstream programme – must also be hastened to cover those who did not opt-in for AstraZeneca.

Some also pointed out that the registration method must be improved, particularly as the government was targeting to enrol those aged 60 and above for the programme, which opens for registration on May 23.

Khairy Jamaluddin, who is National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme coordinating minister, had said the majority of the appointment slots would be available online but a quota would be set aside for senior citizens to sign up through community outreach at district health offices.

Facebook user Shuan Han wrote, "How to register, Khairy... Last time I tried, I could not find my KL postcode," he said, adding that Hong Kong could be emulated where outreach was done at shopping complexes, community halls and other public venues for 'hassle free, walk-in' vaccination."

Facebook user Prescilla Premila concurred, saying that expecting senior citizens to be tech-savvy in order to sign up for AstraZeneca could be a disservice to them.

"Make it easy. Create a slot for them and ask them to accept or decline. For those who decline, move them back into mainstream vaccination.

Khairy said that slots not taken up by senior citizens on May 26 would be offered to those below 60 years old.

This was also met by good response by netizens, with Facebook user Sheila Krishnan chiming in,"Yes open it up! We, the working crowd who move around, need it the most. If the old don't want, it is their own call."

Along with the Klang Valley, the registration, which will offer 1.1 million doses, will now include red-zone states of Johor, Penang and Sarawak.

In a separate development, Selangor exco member in charge of public health Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud also said that employers in the state could register to buy vaccines for their employees.

While many welcomed the announcement made on Monday (May 17), some asked for clarity why employers had to pay for the vaccines, which the government had previously said would be free for everyone.

Thanaletchumy Arujanan wrote on Facebook,"The government should buy and give to the bosses as it's budgeted to be free for the public."

Facebook user Joanne Loong said,"While I applaud your initiative to expedite the vaccination for people in Selangor, please make use of right channels and not further burden employers!"

On Twitter, user @841128idayu prayed that her boss would procure the vaccines.

@yatieperry tweeted,"We should do it earlier, this is how western countries (do it) they buy for staff so that the vaccines can cover all.

"If they start this earlier, the cases are not going to increase. Hope KL will do the same."

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