The association representing private hospitals in the country today suggested that the government provide a voluntary option for the Pfizer vaccine similar to the approach taken for the AstraZeneca jab in order to facilitate the rollout of the national immunisation programme.
Dr Kuljit Singh, president of the Association of Private Hospitals Malaysia, said the “first come, first served” approach for the AstraZeneca vaccine had been well receivd despite fears of side effects including rare cases of blood clots reported in other countries using the vaccine.
“We suggest that a similar methodology of opening options for a given number of vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech) in the national immunisation programme to the public without following the subscribed phase.
“This could be opened to all citizens and residents in the country from time to time, in addition to the AstraZeneca rollout,” he said.
Administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine began on May 5 at four designated centres in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur.
A total of 268,600 slots had been allocated for residents in these areas, all of which were snapped up within hours.
The government decided to administer the jab on a voluntary basis instead of including it in the mainstream vaccination programme, given the public anxiety over the risk of developing blood clots.
Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who is in charge of the national programme, said that 8,000 people had cancelled their vaccination registrations under MySejahtera following the government’s initial announcement that the AstraZeneca jab would be included in the national immunisation programme.
But given the positive response to the voluntary option, he said, the opt-in programme would be expanded as more AstraZeneca doses arrive in the country from the Covax facility as well as from AstraZeneca itself.
Kuljit said any move to offer other vaccines on a voluntary basis could be kept under tight control by the Special Committee on Ensuring Access to Covid-19 Vaccine Supply.
In a statement, he said it could be offered based on available stock without depriving vulnerable groups.
“The proposed ad-hoc vaccination from time to time can be managed by the private hospitals based on MySejahtera appointments,” he added.
“This will greatly help those who require the vaccines early for international travel and for other economic frontliners, particularly now with the recent increase of cases and the potential spread of new variants.”