In hindsight, registration for Covid-19 vaccination could have been staggered, says Khairy

PUTRAJAYA: If there is one mistake which Khairy Jamaluddin (pic) feels he made in handling the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme, it was opening registration to everyone at one go.

He said in hindsight, registration could have been carried out in phases or groups.

Sharing his experience on the matter, the Health Minister – who was then holding the Science, Technology and Innovation portfolio – said there was pressure for Malaysia to start its inoculation programme.

“At that time, countries like the United Kingdom, United States, Singapore and Indonesia had started to vaccinate their population.

“There was a lot of political pressure on us, with some accusing us of being slow.

“So I thought, never mind, let's open the registration to all so that people can at least register first,” he said at the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK) strategic sharing session on Wednesday (Nov 2).

However, when there was a considerable wait for their inoculation appointments, the public began to question the “delay”, he added.

“I have on many occasions explained the vaccination will be done in phases, starting with the frontliners, the elderly and those with comorbidities.

“I mentioned that those under the age of 60 and who are healthy will be vaccinated from August onwards.

“But when people registered and didn’t get their appointment dates, they began to question.

“I would say this was my biggest mistake, and the lesson learnt from this is that managing people’s expectations is important,” he said.

Khairy said that despite initial criticisms that Malaysia was slow in its vaccination programme, it has successfully inoculated 75% of its population to date, nine months after the programme started.

“In April, when the inoculation rate was at 20,000 a day, there were those who did the maths and said it would take us almost five years to fully vaccinate 75% of our population.

“But as of Nov 1, we have reached the target,” he pointed out.

Khairy said another reason for PICK's success was that politicians, irrespective of their political leanings, worked together to get people vaccinated.

“We also ensured that nobody gets left behind in the programme, be it our citizens, foreigners, undocumented migrants.

“We worked with foreign embassies and non-governmental organisations and had our consent forms written in 14 languages including Nepalese, Khmer and Bengali,” he said.

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