Your shot at a million slots in AZ vaccine opt-in

PUTRAJAYA: About one million slots will be available to the public under the second round of the AstraZeneca opt-in vaccine programme when registration opens at noon today for those under the age of 60.

Of the 1.2 million available initially, 228,347 slots had been snapped up since Sunday when registration for the programme was opened only to senior citizens.

National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme coordinating minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the vaccines would be administered at vaccine dispensing centres (PPVs) in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Penang, Johor and Sarawak.

“After giving senior citizens the opportunity to register, the Covid-19 Immunisation Taskforce has decided to open up round two of the AstraZeneca vaccination to those under 60.

“Senior citizens are still given priority and they still have until noon (today) to register for the opt-in, ” he said in his weekly media briefing with Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba yesterday.

Khairy, who is also Science, Technology and Innovation Minister, gave his assurance that senior citizens would continue to be given priority on appointments at mainstream PPVs.

Aside from existing PPVs for AstraZeneca in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, four new PPVs will be opened for the opt-in vaccination programme: Setia Spice Convention Centre in Bayan Lepas, Penang, Persada Johor International Convention Centre in Johor Baru, Borneo Convention Centre in Kuching, and Institut Kemahiran Belia Negara in Miri.

Khairy said those who were on the waiting list of the first round of the programme would be automatically included in the second process.

“After two weeks of the AstraZeneca opt-in programme, 133,326 individuals have been vaccinated.

“Under Phase 2 of the national vaccination exercise which prioritises the elderly, 3,433,739 individuals had registered as at May 23 of which 1,894,673 are senior citizens who have or are about to receive their appointments, ” he added.

On another matter, he described claims that the Sinovac vaccine that was bottled in Malaysia was inferior compared to the ones produced in China as “most irresponsible”.

He said the “filled-and-finished” Sinovac vaccine produced by Pharmaniaga Bhd was subject to stringent testing by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA).

“Pharmaniaga had to undergo a process that took about 10 weeks to complete before the vaccine could be approved.

“Because of the stringent validation process, continuous quality control testing and inspection by NPRA, the filled-and-finished product that comes out of Pharmaniaga’s plant in Puchong is the same quality as the Sinovac vaccine we receive from Sinovac’s factory in Beijing, China.

“Therefore, I would like to completely deny and refute claims that the filled-and-finished product is of inferior quality.

“This allegation is most irresponsible and if we find out who spreads this allegation, we will make sure the full force of law comes down on that person, ” Khairy said.

He also said the Special Committee on Covid-19 Vaccine Supply Access Guarantee would meet tomorrow to discuss the suggestion to increase the dosing interval for Pfizer vaccines.

The recommended interval between the first and second dose for the Pfizer vaccine is three weeks.

For the AstraZeneca vaccine, the recommended period is 12 weeks.

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