What Went Wrong With Malaysia Vaccination Program?

Even though it was obvious but no one dare to admit that Malaysia's vaccination program has so many flaws that make it look like a joke. Every where in the world, COVID-19 was still causing outbreak from time to time but they were already planning an exit strategy. Here in Malaysia, we are still in 2020 phase. We are still in the middle of the pandemic, and not the end of it. Not only Malaysia, but almost all South East Asian country excluding Singapore were doing work at a speed of snail. Slow, unsteady and full of bureaucracy. 

The talk of vaccinating the whole world started since last year. Some countries started to vaccinate their citizen as early as October 2020. By the end of 2020, vaccine is the only way out of the pandemic. 

In Malaysia, the talk of bringing in the vaccine into this county, sound like a mega plan bigger than sending our citizen to Mars. It was hype! We were so hopeful. For the first time, we praised our politician who act like they were in charge and they were actually doing real work. 

Then came February, after months of waiting, the vaccine arrived. It started from there. As a healthcare worker, I was impatient to received my vaccine. Only on March, the vaccination program really started for health care worker (end February was used as a photo op for politician to 'introduce' the vaccine - unnecessary). 

When the program started, it was not like what we imagine. It was slow. It was damn slow. Instead of pushing as much health care worker to be vaccinated, they were all doing the vaccination at their own speed. I keep being a positive person. Maybe they did not have enough manpower, or maybe the vaccine is limited in number. 

Only by May that the vaccine started to pick up speed. Imagine, May! Not all healthcare worker are vaccinated until fasting month in April. From there, this program seem to be going on the wrong direction. Plus with the news that many people are cutting line, then instead of focusing on healthcare worker, suddenly other group of people were added into the first phase of vaccination without good reason. For example, giving politicians their vaccination but prohibit parliament to be convened. For what we gave them priority of vaccine? 

Then started phase 2. A phase which from the beginning I would say would not really help in combating this pandemic. Giving the elderly and people with high risk co-morbidity. Okay, as a human, it is fair and justified to give this group of people an early access of the vaccine. But, think about this, why don't they started the second phase together with everybody else? What happen when they do 'phases' like this? 

In the end, not many elderly turn up for their vaccination. Reason? Too many reason. One of it was the registration using MySejahtera app. Do you all remember when the previous government want to make our society go cashless. Boost, GrabPay, TNG wallet was introduced, and me and my wife was 'abusing' this e-wallet to get discount.... Who rejected the program? The elderly. Most of them said that they don't understand and did not bother to learn to use the app. The technology. They prefer a paper instead of an app. That supposed to be a red flag to ask the elderly to registered through the app for the vaccine. 

Another reason is the antivax. If you look into a family unit, who are the most vulnerable to fake news propaganda? The young or the old? The answer is the old and the religious one. Both old and religious are usually from the elderly group ( some young and religious are vulnerable too!). So fail fail fail!

Then came Ramadhan and Hari Raya Aidilfitri. Many blamed Aidilfitri was the caused of the 4th wave but many do not  realized that the increasing number of cases started from April during Ramadhan. Not many realised (and not reported mainly in the media) that Ramadhan cause the increasing number due to religious gathering and prayer (tarawih). They don't highlight this I do not know why, maybe I know why, but I do not kow it for sure. Still, mosque and Surau were still allowed to continue though out April except in some places. 

And during this ramadhan month, the rate of vaccination were very slow. Remember that the vaccination center refuse to open during night time because they said people want to go for tarawih? Great! (Sarcasm). 

Then Hari Raya came, everyone forget about the SOP, they visit their families and gather together - this was the triggering factor for so many cluster especially in Sabah. 

After the number was going out of control, the vaccination program ramp up. That was a good news but too late. Now they increase the number of people vaccinated until 100 k per day. Salute that. If they started that from early April or May, that was amazing. Imagine how much people are vaccinated today if that happen. But again, it's too late. 

Now, it seem that we are looking for another way to fail the vaccine program after we just started to be on the right track by building mega vaccination center, still rely on MySejahtera for people to register, and still filtering people out on who get the vaccine first and not by who want to be vaccinated. 

Stop this before we fail again. 


I suggest that the program to change: 

1. Vaccine who want to be vaccinated - show up, vaccine, then record. 

2. Stop with the mega vaccine centers, pour the budget into staff and vehicles to penetrate deep into the community. Find and Jab!

3. Let private sector and clinic involve as the vaccinator. (This just started)

4. Vaccinate worker. Many cluster are from workplace. What have been done to them? I would coin it as 'catch, keep and release'. Better to catch, keep, vaccinate the one who were not catch.  This will ensure the rest will not be infected. 

5. Vaccinate those in high risk area. Like PKPD area. Instead of locking them to starve, at least give them vaccine. I believe they will be more accepting in time where they were starving (I am just joking, common!). But seriously, vaccinate them. Before the disease spill out from that area. 

6. Just vaccinate everyone. Does not matter if you are a celebrity, royalty, son of minister, just vaccinate everyone. No double standard. Focus on those B40 who need to go to work to get money to feed their family. Vaccinate them so that they can go to work. 


All of this actually was written in the textbook our how to control an outbreak. Mostly based on influenza virus. But as we go further from science (like sanitizing road as a measure to control the pandemic - they watch to much movie I guess / or relying much on a non medical person to lead the vaccination program ), I hope that some sane person would emerge and try to fix all of this. I know many are working hard to make this happen. But remember, sometime we work hard and we think we are doing the best... in the end to realized that all the hard work is just stupid and unnecessary. Why did I do that? We usually ask that to ourselves and hopefully, it was not too late when we started to ask that question. 

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