PETALING JAYA,Jan 27: Government aims to vaccinate up to 75,000 people daily when it rolls out its national vaccination programme, with 600 immunisation sites to handle these jabs.
In an interview with health news portal CodeBlue, science, technology and innovation minister Khairy Jamaluddin said this was only the government’s first target, with the next being 150,000 vaccinations a day, depending on supply.
He acknowledged that problems might crop up in terms of supply, including manufacturing hold-ups for the Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines and regulatory delays for China’s CoronaVac and Russia’s Sputnik V vaccines.
“The portfolio of vaccines will continue to be rebalanced and adjusted so that we can have a decent supply right up to the fourth quarter of this year. We want to try to get as much done as possible by the second, third and fourth quarter,” he said, according to CodeBlue.
He added that the soonest possible target to vaccinate 27 million people, or 80% of the population, would be by December this year, but that the more realistic target was for it to be done by March 2022.
“We’ve identified about 600 vaccination sites to do this. But we’re also looking at securing other sites, such as stadiums and other big venues,” he said, adding that vaccination centres may even have to operate 24 hours daily.
According to Khairy, Putrajaya will determine the location of vaccination centres based on population density and assumptions of demand, adding that these sites range from government hospitals and clinics to private healthcare facilities.
He said there were 7,000 private clinics across the country, but discussions need to be held at the state level with these clinics. He estimated that the vaccination rate at private clinics will not be very high.
“This is more for convenience. If an elderly person is staying in a particular place where it might be far to go to the hospital or the sites, they can go to the local GPs (general practitioners).
“We’ll have a list on the website and on MySejahtera as well,” he was quoted as saying.
Khairy also said that GPs would be paid for their services and that patients would be immunised for free, adding that the payment rate will be released later.
While current estimates on the number of staff required for the vaccination programme was about 7,000, he said it could go up to as high as 10,000 if more vaccination sites are set up.
Aside from doctors, medical assistants, nurses and nursing supervisors, he said medical students, volunteers and non-governmental organisations would also be mobilised, including the Red Crescent and St John Ambulance.
“Part of it is administering, not anyone can administer, but we want to ensure that all the support services — from registration, to surveilling 15 minutes after you receive (a jab) to make sure there’s no adverse reaction — we want to make sure there are enough people there,” he told the portal.
Since the health ministry lacks the manpower to run the programme, he said community pharmacists might also be roped in to help, adding that health ministry staff have already begun training for Covid-19 immunisation.
“The army will also be assisting in the programme with field vaccination centres in the interiors and also to vaccinate civilians in areas surrounding army hospitals,” he said.
He added that a website will be set up for people to register for their shots and it will show the daily vaccination rates.