KUCHING (April 28): Sarawakians will not be inoculated with the controversial AstraZeneca vaccine under the Covid-19 National Immunisation Programme (NIP) now taking place in the state, said Local Government and Housing Minister Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian.
“No AstraZeneca Covid-19 Vaccines in Sarawak. Those who would like to have AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines will have to walk into any of the Vaccination Centres in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur. Not in Sarawak,” he said in a Facebook post today.
Dr Sim, who is an advisor of the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC), was commenting on news reports which quoted NIP coordinating minister Khairy Jamaluddin as saying he had made an offer to the Sarawak state government to consider the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, owing to concerns over its upcoming state polls.
The AstraZeneca vaccine has been the cause of some concern due to its side effects.
In a joint press conference with Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba in Kuala Lumpur today, Khairy listed severe headaches, blurry vision, weakness and drowsiness, unexplained bleeding and shortness of breath as some of the possible side effects.
He said the AstraZeneca vaccine will not be included under the ongoing NIP but the vaccine would instead be given through dedicated vaccination centres (PPV), on a first-come-first-served basis, to those who want to take the vaccine voluntarily.
Khairy said the decision was taken to avoid disrupting the ongoing immunisation programme but reiterated that the AstraZeneca vaccine was safe.
“So we want to announce today that the AstraZeneca vaccine will not be used in the regular PPVs. We will not use it in the mainstream NIP. We will open special PPVs for the AstraZeneca vaccine and we will open it up for the public who on a voluntary basis, after seeing all the facts regarding AstraZeneca, to come forward, register at the special PPVs which we will open for them to take the AstraZeneca vaccine,” Khairy had said.
He added that a booking system will be opened for the public to book their appointments, and this would be done based on the first-come-first-serve basis for all and not just those who are scheduled to be innoculated under phase two of the NIP.
Khairy said that a pre-vaccination screening would also be carried out at the special PPVs, and those who qualify would then be given the AstraZeneca vaccine.
During the press conference, Khairy announced that Selangor and Kuala Lumpur would be the first two states where 268,600 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine would be deployed for those who are keen.