Controversial vaccine not in main Covid-19 vaccine programme.
The AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine will not be administered to the public in the main nationwide vaccination drive and, instead, will only be given to those who voluntarily come forward to receive the jab, said Khairy Jamaluddin.
“We have decided on a proactive measure that will enable us to continue using the AstraZeneca vaccine and at the same time avert fears and worries among people towards the vaccine,” the coordinating minister for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme said in the weekly press conference today.
He said the vaccine will not be used at normal vaccination centres where the Pfizer and Sinovac jabs will be administered.
“We will open a special vaccination centre for the AstraZeneca vaccine, and it will be made available to the public on a voluntary basis.
“(It will be administered) to individuals who are open to receiving the jab after going through all facts related to the AstraZeneca vaccine,” he said.
The Science, Technology and Innovation Minister said a platform for the registration for the AstraZeneca vaccine will be set up. The jab will then be administered on a first-come-first-serve basis.
“We are not limiting it to those in the second phase. We are opening it to everyone who wants the AstraZeneca jab. We will do pre-vaccination screening at the centre,” he said.
“The vaccine will then be administered to those who signed up if they are eligible,” he added.
The centres will be set up in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur for the first 268,000 doses.
Malaysia received its first batch of the Covid-19 vaccine order from the Covax facility, comprising 268,800 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, on Saturday.
The vaccine has been at the centre of controversy after reports of blood clots and fatalities among recipients emerged from countries that had begun administering the vaccine.
However, Khairy said that although the government is convinced the vaccine is safe and effective, they have taken note of public concern.
“We do not want to waste this safe and effective vaccine but at the same time we understand that in today’s world, science and facts cannot avert people’s worry and the spread of fake news,” he said.
Khairy added the Health Ministry’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate selection sub-committee has found that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risk.
“The possibility of getting blood clot from Covid-19 is 16.5%, from smoking (0.18%) and 0.05-0.12% from using birth control pills,” he said to prove his point.
“The risk of getting a blood clot from the AstraZeneca vaccine is four cases in 1 million, which equates to 0.0004%.
“Therefore, the occurrence of blood clot from the vaccine is way lower than Covid-19 infection, smoking or taking birth control pills,” he said.
Khairy listed severe headaches, blurry vision, weakness and drowsiness, unexplained bleeding and shortness of breath as some of the possible side effects.
He added that he has also made an offer to the Sarawak state government to consider the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, owing to concerns over its upcoming state polls.
He also said that those who have been given vaccination appointments will be given the Pfizer or Sinovac vaccines.