In Malaysia’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the country has decided to prioritize frontliners and senior citizens with chronic illnesses in its vaccination program.
This follows neighboring Singapore’s approach.
But when can healthy Malaysians who aren’t active frontliners, and below the age of 60, expect to be vaccinated?
Science, Technology, and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin says they’ll only be vaccinated by the third quarter of 2021.
Or even later, depending on the availability and distribution of vaccines, says Jamaluddin, who also co-chairs the country’s Special Committee on Ensuring Access to COVID-19 Vaccine Supply (JKJAV).
The first batch of COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by Pfizer and BioNTech is slated to arrive in Malaysia at the end of February 2021. But Jamaluddin stressed that additional doses will only be arriving in staggered batches on a quarterly basis, not all in one go.
“First, no country receives their entire order in one shot. For our Pfizer order, we will receive one million doses in Q1 of 2021, 1.7 million doses in Q2, 5.8 million doses in Q3, and 4.3 million doses in Q4,” he explained.
So, if you were under the impression that Malaysia’s entire population would be inoculated immediately, think again.
That’s what many people assumed, at least.
“There are politicians who have assumed that we can even have elections in March because everyone will be inoculated by then,” Jamaluddin said, before clarifying that, “A February delivery schedule does not mean everyone is vaccinated in February.”
Jamaluddin also revealed that Malaysia’s vaccination plan would span a total of 18 months,
And in response to new findings that show China’s Sinovac vaccine returning a disturbingly-low efficacy (50.4 percent), Malaysia is employing the expertise of the Vaccine Selection Technical Working Group (TWG), chaired by Dr Kalaiarasu Peariasamy, who also happens to be Director of the Institute for Clinical Research (ICR).
“Whatever the decision, I want to assure you that we will only get vaccines that are safe and efficacious for Malaysians,” Jamaluddin reassured.
The Science, Technology, and Innovation Minister also reiterated that the vaccine “is not a silver bullet”.
Only until the country achieves herd immunity, in which there are enough people vaccinated (with effective vaccines), can Malaysians return to a sense of normalcy.
But until then, he urged everyone to continue abiding by existing COVID-19 safety measures, which include the wearing of face masks, social distancing, and the regular upkeep of personal hygiene.
As of January 14, 2021, Malaysia has recorded a total of 147,855 COVID-19 cases, along with 578 deaths.
Keep up with COVID-19 vaccine stories from Southeast Asia:
Philippines green-lights Pfizer vaccine, but there are some challenges
President Jokowi is the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Indonesia
Singapore has already vaccinated over 6,200 people against COVID-19
Follow Mashable SEA on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
Cover image sourced from Reuters / Al Jazeera.