[Updated on 2 June 2021]
On 16 February 2021, Malaysian Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has launched the National Immunisation Programme (NIP) handbook (you can read the English version here). The 26-page plan covers the government's plan for the vaccine roll-out, types of vaccines available and steps for the public to register for the vaccine. If you want to focus on the important details, here are some things to know about the COVID-19 vaccine in Malaysia.
1. The first batch of COVID-19 vaccines arrived in February 2021
Malaysia received its first batch of COVID-19 vaccine, Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, on 21 February 2021. According to The Straits Times, the first batch has 312,930 doses, and Malaysia is scheduled to get a total of 12.8 million doses from Pfizer-BioNTech. The vaccines were flown in on Malaysia Airlines's Airbus A330-300.
2. COVID-19 vaccine is free for all
In the National Immunisation Programme handbook, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said, "The Government’s strategy is to ensure as many residents in Malaysia as possible will receive the vaccine to save lives in the fastest possible time. The vaccine will be provided for free to all citizens and non-citizens of Malaysia. Once the vaccine rollout is completed, the hope is that our national economy will be able to recover and the lives of the rakyat will improve. However, we must still take precautionary steps to ensure that the pandemic does not reoccur."
3. The Prime Minister was the first person to receive COVID-19 vaccine in Malaysia
The first batch of vaccine rollout began on 24 February 2021 and Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was the first person in the country to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, followed by Health director- general Tan Sri Dato' Seri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah and 217,000 front liners that consists of public and private healthcare employees as well as welfare officers, security staff and elected representatives, as reported by The Straits Times.
4. Vaccine rollout will prioritise front liners and senior citizens
According to the National Immunisation Programme, the vaccine rollout in Malaysia will be executed in three phases.
First phase (February to April 2021)
- Target: 500,000 people
- Priority group 1: Frontliners comprising of public and private healthcare personnel
- Priority group 2: Frontliners consisting of essential services*, defense and security personnel
- *Will be updated from time to time by JKJAV
Second phase (April to August 2021)
- Target: 9.4 million people
- Priority group 1: Remainder of healthcare workers as well as those in essential services and defense and security personnel
- Priority group 2: Senior citizens (those aged 60 and over), high-risk group with chronic diseases such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure and people with disabilities (OKU)*
- *The information will be reviewed periodically
Third phase (May 2021 to February 2022)
- Target: 13.7 million people
- Priority group 1: Adults above 18 years old (both Malaysians and non-Malaysians). Priority will be given to citizens residing in the red zone, followed by yellow and green zones.
5. Vaccine rollout will cover adults above 18 years old - for now
According to the National Immunisation Programme, the current vaccine supplies will be administered to adults above 18 years old as clinical trials for children are still under way. The Malaysian government will consider the use of COVID-19 vaccine on children once scientific data has proven the vaccines to be safe and effective for individuals aged 18 years and below.
6. Malaysia has acquired 5 types of COVID-19 vaccines
As stated in the National Immunisation Programme, Malaysia is scheduled to receive more COVID-19 vaccines this year. Besides Pfizer-BioNTech, other COVID-19 vaccines such as AstraZeneca, Sinovac, CanSinoBio, and Sputnik V are included.
Vaccines that have been acquired by Malaysia
According to The Star, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is currently under assessment in Malaysia. This single-dose vaccine has shown promising results based on its clinical information, but it must first be evaluated by Malaysian Health Ministry’s National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA).
7. Expect mild side effects after getting a COVID-19 vaccine
The National Immunisation Programme handbook has listed mild and temporary side effects after getting a COVID-19 vaccine. As reported by The Star, Malaysia's Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin shared that the 'Health Ministry will prepare a special vaccine injury scheme which we will announce in due course'.
Commonly reported side effects after getting a COVID-19 vaccine
- Pain, swelling or redness on the arm where you get the shot
- Joint pain
- Swollen lymph node
8. The public can register for COVID-19 vaccination starting March 2021
The vaccine rollout will be done on a voluntary basis and the public is encouraged to register for COVID-19 vaccination starting 1 March 2021. Click here to find out how to register for COVID-19 vaccine in Malaysia. Details about your appointment such as date and vaccination center will be sent through MySejahtera app or via phone call or SMS.
9. Where to get the latest information about COVID-19 vaccine in Malaysia?
For the latest information about COVID-19 vaccine in Malaysia, you can refer to the National Immunisation Programme handbook (you can read the English version here) or visit Malaysia's official COVID-19 vaccine website. Both handbook and website were released by Jawatankuasa Khas Jaminan Akses Bekalan Vaksin COVID-19 (JKJAV), also known as the Special Committee on COVID-19 Vaccine Supply Access that's chaired by Malaysia's Health Ministry and the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation.
The arrival of COVID-19 vaccines in Malaysia brings a glimmer of hope that we are closer to returning back to where we were. While it's still a long journey of recovery in Malaysia, let's continue to do our part to keep ourselves and our community safe. Remember to practice social distancing in public places, wear a mask at all times, and adhere to the SOP when you're out and about.