Malaysia is speeding up the pace of its national vaccination programme as the country sees a surge of COVID-19 infections. The soaring number of cases has caused an overload in Malaysia’s health care system, and has forced the government to impose strict lockdown measures in highly affected states and districts. Fueled by the circulation of more contagious COVID-19 variants, new waves of infections surfaced and represent the peak of the pandemic for a country which managed to maintain relatively low rates of infection prior to June 2021.
The national vaccination campaign which started in late February progressed moderately until the end of May due to irregular supply of vaccine, but today Malaysia’s first-dose vaccination rate is among the highest in Southeast Asia. This is not an easy feat to achieve as Malaysia needs to compete with other countries and rely on vaccine manufacturers for supplies, said Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.
In a bid to increase the vaccine supply, the government approved AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, manufactured by Siam Bioscience in Thailand. The government has also added the vaccine back into the National Immunization Program after receiving overwhelming response to the AstraZeneca voluntary registration option which saw nearly 1 million doses booked in 90 minutes during the second online registration window.
For the next two months, we will receive approximately 16 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine, with more vaccines anticipated to be readily available in the near future. The government is adding more private clinics and hospitals in the National Immunisation Program in an effort to increase the number of vaccination centers to avoid overcrowding and minimise waiting time in massive government vaccination centers. Accessibility among people in rural areas and those with disability are also being addressed by setting up mobile vaccination clinics that will facilitate villagers, indigenous people, the elderly, the disabled and the homeless.
All these measures are taken to ensure the vaccines are administered as soon as possible, as the government aims to vaccinate 80 percent of the population and obtain herd immunity by the end of the year.