Currently, close to 10% of the Malaysian population has received at least one dose of vaccine via the national COVID-19 immunisation programme (NIP) which began in February 2021. The programme is now doing on average about 150,000 vaccinations daily and it aims to double the vaccination to 300,000 per day by August.
When it was introduced, the NIP had only 3 phases but now there are an additional two phases that have been introduced due to the current COVID-19 situation and the latest developments in vaccines. Here’s a breakdown on what you need to know about the current vaccine rollout.
Phase 1 of the NIP covers priority frontliners, including public and private healthcare workers and the defense and security personnel. It was initially meant to cover 500,000 people and later it was extended to cover more medical frontliners especially from the private sector.
For Phase 2, the programme targets senior citizens aged 60-years-old and above, people with chronic diseases, and people with disabilities. An estimated 9.4 million people in Malaysia are categorised into these groups.
Phase 3 is meant to cover all remaining adults in Malaysia aged between 18 to 59-years-old. Originally scheduled to start in May, the COVID-19 immunisation task force has yet to announce its nationwide rollout.
However, there are already people aged below 60-years-old that have already gotten their vaccination through the AstraZeneca opt-in programme, where the first round of the vaccine opt-in was opened on May 2. In the first round, a total of 268,000 doses were made available for online booking to all residents in the Klang Valley aged 18-years-old and above and all slots were fully booked in just three hours and 20 minutes.
In the second round, over 1.2 million doses were available, and the program is also offered to residents in Penang, Johor and Sarawak. Senior citizens were given priority to book before it was opened up to all adults.
The public-private partnership immunisation programme (PIKAS) to vaccinate employees of the manufacturing sector is now known as Phase 4, as announced by MITI. TheThis was introduced in response to calls from industry associations, business chambers of commerce and Small and Medium Enterprises to accelerate immunisation for the economic frontliners.
Phase 4 was set to begin on June 16 and vaccinations will be done on-site at designated factories and industrial locations. Phase 4 will also include other critical manufacturing sub-sectors such as electrical and electronics, food processing, iron and steel, medical devices, personal protective equipment (PPE), oil and gas and rubber products.
The vaccine supplies for economic frontliners are provided for free under the NIP but the industry will have to bear the cost of administering the vaccines. Employers are not allowed to deduct administration fees from their employee’s salaries.
Malaysia also plans to vaccinate children as young as 12-years-old under Phase 5 of the NIP. Health Minister Dr Adham Baba revealed that it could start as early as August but it is subject to approval by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA).
Pfizer has completed its vaccine trial for children and it has been approved for use in several countries including the US, Canada, Singapore, and the Philippines.
Including children in the NIP will be crucial in achieving herd immunity by the end of this year as approximately 30% of Malaysia’s population are below 18 years old. As reported by the Ministry of Health, a total of 82,341 COVID-19 cases were detected among children below 18 years old as of May 30.