Sarawak gives nod for AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccination on voluntary basis

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A nurse holds up a dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at the World Trade Centre Kuala Lumpur May 5, 2021. ― Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
A nurse holds up a dose of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at the World Trade Centre Kuala Lumpur May 5, 2021. ― Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUCHING, May 18 — The Sarawak Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (Sarawak CITF) has agreed to let the AstraZeneca vaccine be used in the state on a voluntary first-come, first-served basis and by appointment, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah said today.

He said this follows the Sarawak Covid-19 Vaccine Advisory Group’s (SCoVAG) recommendations on using the AstraZeneca vaccine for the eligible population within the state.

“After the review and presentation, the Sarawak CITF has decided to allow the use of the vaccine to complement the Sarawak Covid-19 Vaccination Roll Out Plan,” he said in a statement.

He added the vaccine will be supplied to Sarawak through the coordination of the National CITF and will be offered to the eligible population, on a voluntary basis.

He said separate, designated vaccination centres will be set up and prepared for this purpose and will be announced in due time.

Uggah, who is also the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) said SCoVAG has recommended the use of the vaccine among those above 60 years old in urban areas, based on the very low overall severe adverse events of 6.5 per million doses and the high benefit to risk ratio among those above 60 years old.

“However, this evidence-based recommendation has to be balanced with the reality in a society where many people are wary and hesitant to get vaccinated,” he said.

He said the state government does not want the Covid-19 Vaccination Programme to be jeopardised by the fear and hesitancy due to the use of the vaccine.

“After the recent experience of offering the AstraZeneca vaccine in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur on a voluntary basis, a local paper conducted an online survey on May 4, 2021 in Sarawak on the reception of the vaccine.

“The result showed that 69.4 per cent of the 1,037 responses were in favour of giving Sarawakians the option of being vaccinated while 52.9 per cent actually want to be vaccinated with the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine,” he added.

National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme coordinating minister Khairy Jamaluddin’s previously said that the federal government remained open if Sarawak changed its mind on the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine and decided to accept it.

Yesterday, Putrajaya said it will open the second round registration of the AstraZeneca vaccine for those above the age of 60 starting May 23.

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