Phase 3 of the national vaccination programme may not take off as planned due to the lack of vaccine supply, said Khairy Jamaluddin.
The science, technology and innovation minister said Phase 2 is going smoothly, but he was not sure of Phase 3.
“Phase 2 is ongoing… Phase 3 is supposed to start in May, but I don’t know if we have enough (vaccines) to start.
“In Malaysia, (the slow rate of vaccination) is not due to the inefficiency of the vaccination programme. In fact, we scheduled 260,000 appointments in one day.
“It’s not that we cannot do it fast, but vaccine supply is slow,” Khairy told a press conference after his visit to the AstraZeneca vaccination centre at World Trade Centre Kuala Lumpur.
Phase 3, involving those aged 18 and above, is supposed to start in June until February 2022.
Khairy, who is also the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme coordinating minister, said Putrajaya is not satisfied with the distribution of vaccines as the rich countries seem to be given priority.
“Pharmaceutical companies are giving priority to the rich countries,” he said.
He said the international community must discuss this urgently for the future management of the pandemic.
“I’m trying to manage expectations here. The vaccines are not sitting in some freezer in Kuala Lumpur, they have not arrived yet,” he said.
Khairy assured that the vaccines would arrive on a gradual basis, and they would receive more supply in June and July this year.
He said the opt-in vaccination programme, involving the AstraZeneca vaccine, is categorised as Phase 4 under disease control, particularly in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor due to the spike in number of cases
He also said individuals who received the AstraZeneca vaccine have so far only reported mild fever as side effects.
On Sunday, registration for the 268,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine was filled within hours after the online booking system went live at noon.
Reservations were accepted via the vaksincovid.gov.my website on a first-come, first-served basis, for those in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, aged 18 years old and above.
Khairy added that some 1.1 million doses of AstraZeneca will be arriving in stages from this month till September from the Covid-19 Vaccine Global Access or Covax facility.