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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 25 -- The Health Ministry (MOH) is targetting the COVID-19 vaccination programme in the country to be completed by the end of this year or early next year.
Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the vaccination programme would involve three phases with the first phase expected to start in March involving half a million vaccines for frontline workers.
“We hope to receive the first vaccine at the end of next month. We expect the (first phase) of vaccinations to be from March to May with the second dose being administered 21 days after receiving the first dose.
“The second phase is for vulnerable groups involving those aged 60 and above and those with infectious and non-communicable diseases.
“The third phase will be given to all 17 million Malaysians, especially to those who are working. So, we hope to complete the vaccination by the end of this year or early next year. This is our plan to end or to break the Covid-19 infection chain in our country,” he said.
He said this at the Health Ministry’s COVID-19 emergency media briefing session held virtually, here today.
Dr Noor Hisham said so far the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Division under the MOH has only given conditional approval to the COVID-19 vaccine produced by pharmaceutical company Pfizer.
He said the conditional approval was given after looking at the third phase of clinical trials including the side effects of the vaccine.
Any vaccine has side effects such as fever, redness and so on following the body’s response to the vaccine, he added.
Commenting on the vaccine’s effectiveness, Dr Noor Hisham said Malaysia had the advantage in terms of time, between three and four months, to see the effectiveness of the vaccine in countries that have carried out the vaccination programme earlier.
“This may be to our advantage as we have four months to watch the implementation of the vaccination programme in other countries, for example in the United States and the United Kingdom. The side effects are low. Many of my friends there have received the vaccine.
“So far Alhamdulillah, with the Pfizer vaccine there are no related side effects. (If) there is a possibility of death or other side effects it may not be related to the vaccine. This is what we have to see, whether (death) is caused by the vaccine or is a ‘coincidence’ related to other diseases,” he said.
He said they would continue monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of the vaccine in the near and long term.