KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin will receive the COVID-19 vaccine alongside frontliners on Feb 26, the first day of the implementation of the national COVID-19 immunisation programme.
Mr Muhyiddin made the announcement during a television address on Tuesday (Feb 16) morning, during which he also launched the programme's handbook, a reference guide for the general public.
"The publication of this book is timely because the country will soon receive the first delivery of the COVID-19 vaccines," he said.
"I am pleased to announce that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines will arrive in Malaysia on Feb 21, 2021. Furthermore, the roll-out implementation of the national COVID-19 immunisation program will begin on Feb 26, 2021, when I will receive the vaccine alongside frontline officers," he added.
Mr Muhyiddin also outlined that the programme will be rolled out in three phases.
The first phase, which will involve frontline staff, will take place from Feb 26 until April. This is expected to encompass around 500,000 people.
The second phase, which involves high risk groups such as the elderly and those suffering from chronic conditions, is slated for April until August. This is set to include around 9.4 million people.
Meanwhile, the third phase, for adults aged 18 and above, will take place from May until February 2022. This is set to include at least 13.7 million people.
"The comprehensive immunisation programme is to ensure that herd immunity is built in the community to break the chain of COVID-19 infections and eventually, end the COVID-19 pandemic," said Mr Muhyiddin.
"Briefly, the vaccination is key not only to protect ourselves, but also our loved ones - our family members, work colleagues, neighbours and the entire community," he added.
He also unveiled the slogan for the national COVID-19 immunisation programme - "Protect yourself, Protect Everyone" - as well as a website where the handbook can be downloaded.
Mr Muhyiddin stressed that when the programme has been successfully implemented, the country will begin to feel the positive impact.
"Various sectors of the economy will be reopened, like tourism. We can visit one another, play sports while adapting to the new normal," said Mr Muhyiddin.
He also urged Malaysians to register for the vaccine when the time comes, and show up for appointments to receive both doses.
"This is what I mean when I say that the COVID-19 vaccine is one of our most important rays of hope for us to win the war against COVID-19," he added.
READ: Malaysia to receive first batch of COVID-19 vaccines as country reports more than 4,000 new cases
ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES TO BE VACCINATED DURING FIRST PHASE
Speaking at a press conference later, Mr Muhyiddin said Members of Parliament (MPs) and state assemblymen will be among the recipients of the COVID-19 vaccine under the first phase of the immunisation programme.
"Since the nature of their job is such, we agree that the MPs and state assemblymen, regardless from which party, will be given the vaccine during the first phase so that they can discharge their duties more effectively and safely," he said, according to Bernama.
The prime minister added that the government would also consider requests to include media personnel and teachers as recipients for the vaccine in the first phase.
"If we believe they are at risk if not vaccinated, we will then consider them as among the first recipients of the vaccination programme," he said.
Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who was also speaking at the press conference, added that the government had allocated 300,000 doses for medical frontliners for the first phase of the vaccination programme and 200,000 doses for non-medical frontliners, including security personnel, welfare officers and politicians.
In November, Malaysia said it had agreed to buy 12.8 million doses of the vaccine jointly developed by the US drugmaker Pfizer and and German partner BioNTech.
In January, Malaysia signed a second deal with Pfizer to secure an additional 12.2 million doses of their vaccine.
The Southeast Asian nation also signed agreements to secure 18.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines produced by Russia's Gamaleya Research Institute and China's Sinovac.
Since the movement control order was reinstated in January, Malaysia has continued to battle a sharp spike in infections and has consistently reported four-digit daily increases in COVID-19 cases.
The situation has improved recently. On Monday, Malaysia recorded 2,176 new COVID-19 cases, the lowest number of daily infections recorded in the past 30 days.
So far, Malaysia has reported a cumulative tally of 266,445 infections and 975 deaths.
There are currently 47,135 active cases, with 260 patients in intensive care and 112 people requiring ventilator support.