KUALA LUMPUR (MALAYSIA) – Malaysia will get its first batch of COVID-19 vaccines on Feb. 21, and kick off its inoculation drive five days after that, informed Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Tuesday.
Muhyiddin announced that he will be the first to receive a dose of the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, when the inoculation campaign starts on Feb. 26.
“This comprehensive (vaccination) programme is aimed at ensuring herd immunity in the community so that we can stop the spread of COVID-19 infections and bring an end to the pandemic,” Muhyiddin said at the launch of the programme handbook.
The first phase of Malaysia’s vaccination drive will run from February to April, and will involve 300,000 medical and 200,000 non-medical frontline workers – including politicians, security and welfare officers, Science Minister Khairy Jamaluddin told reporters after the launch.
The country also has vaccine supply agreements with Britain’s AstraZeneca, Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute, and China’s Sinovac Biotech and CanSino Biologics. But so far, only the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been approved for use in Malaysia, while the rest are still awaiting authorisation from the country’s drug control regulators.
Malaysia aims to vaccinate at least 80% of its 32 million population within a year as it pushes to revive an economy that, slammed by coronavirus-related curbs last year, recorded its worst annual performance in over two decades.
Malaysia’s cabinet has also agreed to prepare a special injury scheme to compensate people who experience serious side-effects after receiving the vaccine. “We will also have protocols in place if excess doses are not used. We will be giving doses to security personnel and people volunteering at the (vaccine delivery) centres so there is no wastage,” Khairy said.