Daily 400k vaccination target is realistic, say experts

Shot in the arm: A senior citizen getting her jab. A total of 22 senior citizens from Tong San Club and Klang Old Folks Home received their first dose yesterday. — Bernama

PETALING JAYA: The Prime Minister’s goal of achieving 400, 000 vaccinations a day by August is realistic – if issues of supply and red tape are addressed, according to medical experts.

Medical Practitioners Coalition Association of Malaysia president Dr Raj Kumar Maharajah said the current vaccination process will run much smoother if it is not impeded by a shortage in vaccine supply.

“The Prime Minister’s optimism is that up to 400, 000 people can be vaccinated a day once supplies are stable.

“It is a realistic goal because the government has since allowed general practitioners to be part of the vaccination programme.

“What will drive it further is if walk-ins for vaccinations are allowed as well, ” he said when contacted yesterday.

Coordinating Minister for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NIP) Khairy Jamaluddin said that the government aims to get sufficient supply of Covid-19 vaccines for 80% of the Malaysian population by this October.

In April, Khairy said the “greed” of certain developed countries in over-purchasing Covid-19 vaccines has led to a global delivery and supply problem, which has also affected Malaysia.

The following month, Khairy warned that inadequate supply of Covid-19 vaccines worldwide could hamper the rollout of Phase Three of the immunisation programme to vaccinate adults above 18.

Universiti Malaya’s epidemiology and public health professor Dr Sanjay Rampal said the 400, 000 daily vaccination target is crucial if the nation is to achieve herd immunity earlier than scheduled.

“That is the rate we need and are aiming for.

“However, to achieve this, the vaccination programme should be implemented through a whole-of-society approach.

“This means including additional participation from private healthcare providers, civic organisations, industry and local administrative bodies, ” he said yesterday.

He also said that reducing the bureaucracy and rigidity in the administering of vaccines may help increase vaccination capacity.

Malaysian Medical Association president Datuk Dr Subramaniam Muniandy said there is still hesitancy among some to get vaccinated, which could hamper efforts to achieve herd immunity.

“We should use education and incentives to overcome such hesitancy.

“The faster the vaccine rollout, the less likelihood of new variants emerging, ” he added.

Dr Sanjay proposed speeding up vaccinations for those who have already registered to help reduce public hesitancy.

“This will allow those who have been vaccinated to serve as ‘vaccine ambassadors’ to influence others, ” he added.

Experts also widely agreed with the government’s move yesterday to extend the full lockdown by another two weeks.

“This is to maximise the benefits of the first two weeks of the initial lockdown.

“After that, we may localise the MCO in states or localities with higher infections, ” said Dr Sanjay.

Dr Subramaniam also agreed with the extension, and added that some easing of restrictions on business operations may be possible.

“Business hours can be lengthened to prevent too many people gathering at business premises at the same time.

“However, working from home is still one of the best options during this period, ” he said.

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