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KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 23 -- Malaysia is to set into motion tomorrow a massive nationwide exercise to immunise free of charge all people in the country, locals and foreigners alike, against the COVID-19 disease that has infected almost 290,000 and claimed over 1,000 lives.
Spearheading the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme will be none other than Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who will be the first person in the country to get the vaccine - the first of the two shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine - at the Putrajaya Health Clinic in Precinct 11 at about 3 pm.
Leaders around the world have all headed the list of vaccine recipients in their own countries to lead by example and instil confidence in their people that it is safe to take the vaccine. Nearer home, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Indonesian President Joko Widodo did the same thing.
Also taking the vaccine at the Putrajaya Health Clinic tomorrow will be Director-General of Health Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah whom the people have grown familiar with as the person at the forefront of Malaysia’s battle against the coronavirus.
Up to four staff of the Health Ministry are expected to be administered the vaccine at the clinic under the immunisation programme that has been brought forward by two days from Friday due to the scheduled delivery of the vaccine.
A total of 312,390 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were delivered to Malaysia on Sunday, some flown in to Kuala Lumpur and Penang and some overland to Johor. The vaccine was routed via Singapore, the hub for distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine to Asia Pacific countries.
It has been announced that the second batch of 182,520 doses of the same vaccine are scheduled to arrive in the country tomorrow.
Recipients of the first dose of the vaccine have to set up an appointment to receive the second dose. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has to be taken in two shots, 21 days apart.
Before the vaccination proper takes place, the Prime Minister and the others will get a briefing that is given to recipients and they will have to sign a consent form as well.
Also tomorrow, Muhyiddin will officially launch the vaccination registration exercise over the MySejahtera application to facilitate the whole programme.
Users of the Android and iOS smart telephones can update their MySejahtera application, answer several questions on consent and then get the application form for receiving the vaccine.
So far, 571,802 frontliners have registered to get immunised, 57.3 per cent of them from the medical and health sector and 42.7 per cent from other sectors such as the Malaysian Armed Forces, Royal Malaysia Police, Malaysian Volunteer Department (Rela), Prisons Department, Royal Malaysia Customs Department and the Fire and Rescue Department.
It is learned that the government may get selected teachers, especially those with morbidities, and journalists to get immunised under the first of the three-phase programme.
The first phase is scheduled from tomorrow to April, the second from April to August - for senior citizens aged 60 and above and vulnerable groups with morbidities as well as people with disabilities - and the third phase from May to February 2022 - for people aged 18 and above.
Malaysia has signed agreements to procure 66.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX facility and five producers - Pfizer BioNTech, Astra Zeneca, Sinovac, CanSino and Gamaleya.