PETALING JAYA: The Bukit Jalil vaccination centre (PPV) that opens today is expected to boost Malaysia’s vaccination rate by 10,000 per day.
This mega PPV and others like it that opened earlier this month – at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, Axiata Arena Bukit Jalil, Setia City Convention Centre and UiTM Puncak Alam – have a combined daily capacity of serving 23,000 people, which would accelerate the government’s Covid-19 immunisation drive.
They join other mega PPV that have the capacity to inoculate thousands of people, like the World Trade Centre and the Malaysia International Trade & Exhibition Centre (Mitec), both in Kuala Lumpur, which can take up to 8,100 and 5,000 a day, respectively.
The battle against the pandemic is being further ramped up by mobile PPV to reach vulnerable groups and remote areas.
Mobile units vaccinated 1,000 residents of Kampung Muhibbah People’s Housing Project near Jinjang, Kuala Lumpur, on June 7 while another mobile PPV in Muar, Johor hopes to reach 3,000 senior citizens by June 23 after having started operations on June 9.
Last week, the daily vaccination tally of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme showed a positive trend as the country surpassed the target of 200,000 doses per day.
“The target is to reach a daily average of 389,589 doses in July and 433,796 doses in August, up from the estimated 177,567 doses in June,” said Khairy Jamaluddin, the coordinating minister of the national programme.
“The vaccination pace will then gradually decrease post-August, reaching 80,726 doses daily on average by December this year.”
Khairy said the third phase of the vaccination plan in the Klang Valley will begin at the Bukit Jalil PPV.
So far, almost 1.6 million people – about 4.8% of the targeted 80% of the eligible population needed to achieve herd immunity – in the country have received double doses of the Covid-19 vaccine.
Registrations for vaccination have also ramped up, with a significant 710,477 sign-ups recorded in a single day on June 11, compared to slightly over 200,000 registrations the day before.
However, the goal to eventually vaccinate 400,000 people daily might be hampered if the vaccine supply is choked.
Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy CEO Azrul Mohd Khalib said the vaccine supply is the foremost challenge in speeding up vaccination rates and it is beyond even the government’s control.
He added that many Malaysians are unaware of the challenges facing the global vaccine supply.
“An order of a million doses, for example, is generally delivered over a couple of weeks or months and they don’t arrive all at once,” he said, adding that deliveries could also sometimes run off schedule.
He said missed appointments also hampered vaccination efforts but this is more because recipients, mostly senior citizens, cannot get to vaccination centres, miss their appointment notifications, or do not know how to use MySejahtera to check their appointments.
“Vaccine hesitancy also continues to plague efforts and we need to overcome bad information with good facts,” he said.
Azrul said the lack of qualified professionals involved in the process also slowed things down and he suggested that more general practitioners (GPs) get involved.
Malaysia Public Health Physicians Association president Datuk Zainal Arifin Omar said if the vaccine supply problem is corrected, the vaccination process would cover more people in less time.
“If we can get a big enough supply in the next three months, I estimate we will be able to cover about 60% of the population,” he said.
He also advised ignoring the whispers of vaccine-hesitant people.“I think they only amount to about 5% of the population, so just ignore the noise because the priority is to protect yourself,” he said.
Malaysian Medical Association president Prof Datuk Dr M. Subramaniam said while the combination of mega vaccination centres and GPs may speed up vaccination rates, simplifying the on-boarding process for GPs to be involved could increase efficiency.
“GPs are well distributed nationwide and this will improve access to vaccines, but we feel that the process to get GPs on board should be simplified and they should be allowed to have the vaccine vials delivered to them instead of having to leave their clinics to pick them up,” he said.
GPs who want to be involved in the vaccination drive need to attend a training programme with ProtectHealth Corporation Sdn Bhd.