KUCHING, May 18 — The COVID-19 Immunisation Task Force of Sarawak (CITF Sarawak) has decided to allow the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is now called Vaxzevria, to complement the state’s vaccination rollout plan.
In a statement today, it said the decision was made after it heard the review and presentation by the Sarawak COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Group (SCoVAG) which had recommended using Vaxzevria for Sarawak eligible population on a voluntary basis.
“The vaccine will be supplied to Sarawak through the coordination of the National COVID-19 Immunisation Task Force (National CITF) and will be offered to the eligible population on a voluntary ‘first come, first served’ – by appointment basis,” CITF Sarawak said.
It said separate designated vaccination centres would be set up and prepared to provide the AstraZeneca vaccine to those who agreed to accept it and their operations would be announced in due time.
“SCoVAG had recommended the use of the vaccine among those above 60 years old in the urban areas, based on the very low overall severe adverse events of 6.5 per million doses and the high benefit to risk ratio among those above 60 years old,” it said.
CITF Sarawak said the state had initially opted not to include AstraZeneca for its COVID-19 vaccination plan following the fear and hesitancy among the public after the federal government announced that the vaccine would be part of the nationwide immunisation plan.
Following this situation, the federal government decided to take the vaccine out of the plan and offered it to those who volunteered to have it on the ‘first come, first served’ basis, which had received overwhelming responses in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur.
An online survey was also conducted by a Sarawak news portal which had shown that 69.4 per cent of 1,037 respondents were in favour of having the AstraZeneca vaccine given to Sarawakians, while 52.9 per cent of 1,040 respondents wanted to be vaccinated with it.
“Given this new insight and willingness of the people in Sarawak to have the choice of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the CITF Sarawak has agreed to let the vaccine be used in Sarawak on a voluntary, ‘first come, first served’ basis,” CITF Sarawak added.