SHAH ALAM (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Due to the low number of registration for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme, the Malaysian government has decided to include additional groups in the second phase of the exercise.
This second phase, which begins in April, was initially meant only for those aged 60 and above as well as high-risk groups.
Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the additional phase two groups will include "economic front-liners".
These front-liners are workers in crucial economic sectors such as manufacturing, construction, aviation, and oil and gas sectors, according to healthcare news portal CodeBlue.
Malaysians who need to commute to Singapore for work may also be prioritised for the vaccine, Mr Khairy said, citing his discussions with the Singaporean foreign minister on Tuesday (March 23).
But Mr Khairy, who is the coordinating minister for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme, also pointed out that the second phase of the programme will still emphasise the high-risk and vulnerable groups.
"I wish to emphasise that the elderly, high-risk groups, the disabled and those with chronic illnesses will still be prioritised in the second phase, " Mr Khairy told a press conference at the Selangor state secretariat on Thursday.
Selangor Mentri Besar Amirudin Shari was also at the press conference, held after the Selangor Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force meeting here.
Mr Khairy will announce what the agreed groups will be next Monday.
"There are some groups categorised as economic front-liners that need to be given attention when administering the vaccine, " he added.
He also said the awareness level in Selangor is high as the state has recorded the highest number of registrations for the Covid-19 vaccination.
The state has also recorded the highest number of vaccine doses administered in the nation during phase one of the exercise, which is still ongoing.
"The awareness level in Selangor is quite high and we will improve our vaccine registration strategy via face-to-face registration through a programme in collaboration with the state government's machinery as well as with the help of non-governmental organisations, " said Mr Khairy.
He said the National Disaster Management Agency and other organisations will also be roped in to go house to house, and also initiate registrations in areas frequented by people.
The minister added that some 90 vaccination centres are operational in Selangor and his ministry is in the midst of coordinating to see if there is a need for more such centres to be set up.
He said the subsequent phases will be further improved after scrutinising the first phase, as the government is intent on increasing the number of vaccinations in the coming phase.
He added that opening additional vaccination centres also depended on the amount of vaccines arriving from abroad.
Meanwhile, Datuk Seri Amirudin said more than 83 per cent of those registered for the first phase of the inoculation programme have received their first dose.
He added that the first phase in the state is expected to be completed by the end of April.
"My target after this would be to focus on getting ready for the second and third phases, such as concentrating on registrations and logistics pertaining to the vaccination centres, " Mr Amirudin said.
He added that preparations for the subsequent phases will be managed by district administrations and state level officers.