‘Priority for ages 60 and above’

PETALING JAYA: Those aged 60 and above in the Klang Valley, Johor, Penang and Sarawak will be prioritised in the second round of opt-in for the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, which will be opened for registration on May 23, says Khairy Jamaluddin.

The coordinating minister for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme said the three states outside of the Klang Valley that had been included in the second round were in the red zone category and had been recording a high number of Covid-19 cases daily.

A total of 1.1 million doses of the vaccine will be made available to the public in this round.

“This is part of our efforts to protect this vulnerable group as more positive cases are recorded, and also for us to quicken phase two of the national immunisation programme, ” Khairy said in a virtual press conference together with Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba yesterday.

Khairy said senior citizens could register via www.vaksincovid.gov.my while a quota would be set aside for senior citizens to sign up through the community outreach at district health offices.

“But a majority of the appointment spots will be available through the website. On May 26, the spots that are not taken up by senior citizens will be opened to those below the age of 60, ” he added.

He also announced that those who had registered in the first round and put on the waiting list would get to set their appointment under the second round.

The first registration for the AstraZeneca vaccine was held on May 2 for 268,000 people in the Klang Valley on a first-come first-served basis. All the doses were booked within three hours.

With an order of 6.4 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine expected to be delivered later, Khairy said Malaysia would not add more of this vaccine to the portfolio.

He said there were also no plans to halt the AstraZeneca vaccine in Malaysia despite Indonesia’s decision to suspend it following the death of a 22-year-old man a day after immunisation.

“We are studying the information from Indonesia. The Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) held a meeting and to date, there have not been any serious side effects reported since the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in Malaysia.

“Therefore, we will go ahead with the vaccine, ” he reiterated.

Khairy said the government was aware of public concerns over the AstraZeneca vaccine but noted it had been administered to Malaysians without reports of serious side effects.

In line with World Health Organisation guidance, he noted that the interval between AstraZeneca doses was now at 12 weeks.

He said the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) had approved the recommendation, which was also practised in Australia, the Netherlands, Finland, Iceland and Portugal.

“The WHO specialist group recommended eight to 12 weeks between the first and second jabs.

“But we will allow those who need to shorten the doses’ interval to apply online starting next week, for example, students who need to travel abroad, ” he added.

Meanwhile, Khairy said vaccination under the national immunisation programme would be ramped up within the next two months, with a weekly supply of 2.5 million doses of Pfizer and Sinovac vaccines from July.

“Vaccine supplies will increase by this month as well as in June and July, to two million doses of Pfizer and 500,000 doses of Sinovac a week.

“Our supply will rise as vaccines arrive every week, along with the delivery of AstraZeneca, ” he said.

He also noted that 475,984 senior citizens had received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine under the NIP and opt-in.

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