GEORGE TOWN: Penang has dropped plans to buy Covid-19 vaccines, says Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow (pic).
Instead, the focus is now on ensuring sufficient manpower and vaccination centres and if all goes as planned, the vaccination exercise towards herd immunity in Penang might be completed by August.
Chow said the state had received assurance that there would be enough vaccines coming under the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme and the state aimed to help roll them out as soon as possible.
He said in a recent meeting with coordinating minister Khairy Jamaluddin, the state was informed that supply of vaccines would increase tremendously in the months to come.
“We are now dispensing between 5,000 and 10,000 doses daily but in order to complete the vaccination exercise by October, we need to increase the rate to between 15,000 and 20,000 doses daily.
“The minister gave assurance that the supply of vaccines will no longer be an issue and we now need to focus on manpower and vaccination centres to achieve targets.“Maybe from July, we will dispense up to 25,000 or 30,000 doses a day. While completing the immunisation drive by August will be a challenge, the worst case will be completing it by October, ” said Chow after visiting SPICE Arena where AstraZeneca vaccines were dispensed on its first day yesterday.
Chow said 112,350 people in Penang registered for the AstraZeneca vaccine, of which 31,928 are aged 60 and above and 80,422 are aged 18 to 59.
“This centre targets to dispense 1,000 doses daily on the first three days, followed by 3,000 daily on the coming weekdays and 2,000 doses daily on weekends.
“It will operate until July 27 and be open from 8am to 9pm on weekdays and 8am to 5pm on weekends, ” he said.
Chow said another private hospital would step in to join the earlier six as vaccination centres.
“Optimax Eye Specialist Hospital has opened up as a vaccination centre and the hospitals each have a capacity of dispensing 50 to 200 doses daily, depending on their abilities, ” he said.