Malaysia’s mass vaccination program starts

Malaysia on Wednesday began with its mass vaccination program, two days earlier than scheduled, with the first person to receive the vaccine no other than its prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

According to a report by Straits Times, Yassin received the first of two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at a public clinic in Putrajaya, Malaysia.

The Southeast Asian country was supposed to begin with the program on Friday but the jabs arrived earlier than schedule prompting Malaysia to start immediately.

The program was expected to last up to a year to immunize the entire population, with the general populace targeted to start receiving vaccines starting May.

Earlier this year, Malaysia said it would conduct the vaccination program in phases.

Under the first phase, the first to receive jabs are elected representatives, healthcare workers, and other front-liners. Phase one alone was targeted to end until March.

Meanwhile, the second phase would involve at-risk groups such as those with certain existing illnesses and those aged above 65.

The country was targeting to inoculate 83 percent of its 33 million population for free, including foreign workers, expatriates, refugees, and undocumented migrants.

Malaysia was able to purchase 25 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine which was enough to inoculate 39 percent of the population.

It has also purchased some 6.4 million doses from British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, another 12 million doses from Chinese firm Sinovac, 6.4 million doses of the Sputnik V from Russia.

The Malaysian government was also in the final stages of negotiations with US-based Johnson and Johnson for the purchase of the latter’s single-dose vaccine, which was found 66 percent effective.

Aside from Malaysia, other Southeast Asian nations such as Indonesia and Singapore have also administered their own mass vaccination programs.

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