Health workers and elderly citizens will be among the first in the country to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine when the first shipment hits Malaysia.
They will receive the first batch of a million Pfizer doses expected as soon as February along with individuals in other high-risk groups such as those with respiratory and noncommunicable diseases.
Other Malaysians will get inoculated in stages throughout the year. Pfizer will deliver 1.7 million doses of the vaccine, followed by 5.8 million and 4.3 million in subsequent quarters.
Citizens can get vaccinated for free at government hospitals and clinics, while non-Malaysians will have to pay a cost yet to be determined by the Health Ministry. It is not compulsory.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin is also expected to be among the first to get vaccinated against the virus.
“The government expects the first supply of one million doses of vaccine from Pfizer to be received and will be given to the target group by February 2021 at the earliest,” 73-year-old Yassin said in an address to the nation yesterday.
The federal budget has allocated RM3 billion (US$74 million) to buy COVID-19 vaccines.
Currently, the Health Ministry aims to vaccinate about 80%, or 26 million, of Malaysia’s population. It is in final stages of negotiations with other pharmaceutical companies such as Sinovac, CanSino and Gamaleya. They have also procured an additional 6.4 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca. None has been clinically proven more effective than the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, however.
Malaysia has recorded 95,327 COVID-19 cases since the outbreak started in February, with 2,062 new infections logged yesterday. The death toll stands at 438.
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This article, Health workers, elderly among first million to get Malaysia’s COVID-19 jabs, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company.