Monday, June 14, 2021

Sarawak to allow AstraZeneca jab on voluntary basis after initial doubt

The state immunisation task force says a recent survey shows that many in Sarawak are in favour of being allowed the option of choosing the AstraZeneca vaccine.

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Sarawak has agreed to include the AstraZeneca jab in its rollout of vaccines in the state, with doses given on a voluntary, first-come, first-served basis as is currently the case in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur.

The Sarawak Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) said designated vaccination centres would be set up for this purpose.

In a statement, it said the Sarawak government had previously decided against the jab as it did not want the vaccination programme in the state to be jeopardised by public anxiety over the AstraZeneca brand.

However, it said a local paper had conducted an online survey in the state on May 4 which showed that 69.4% of 1,037 respondents were in favour of giving Sarawakians the option of being vaccinated with AstraZeneca.

Just over 52% of 1,040 respondents meanwhile said they would like to be given the jab.

“Given this new insight and willingness of the people in Sarawak to have the choice of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the Sarawak CITF has agreed to let the vaccine be used in Sarawak on a voluntary, first-come, first-served basis – by appointment,” it said.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is currently being administered to volunteers in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, with registration for a second batch reserved for senior citizens aged 60 and above to open next week in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Johor and Sarawak.

Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who is in charge of the national immunisation programme, said early this month that some 8,000 people had cancelled their vaccination appointments under MySejahtera following the government’s initial announcement that the AstraZeneca vaccine would be included in the national programme.

He said the majority of them re-registered after the jab was taken out of the mainstream vaccination programme and made optional.

The Sarawak CITF said it had initially decided to allow the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, but that it reversed its decision “based on the disturbing lesson learnt through the rejection rate of vaccination registration”.

Following the rollout of the jab in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, though, it said the vaccine will be given in the state on a voluntary basis.

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