KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 29): Eight in 10 Malaysians agree to be vaccinated for Covid-19 and five out of 10 want the jab immediately (49.3%) rather than waiting for six months (30.1%), according to an online poll by The Edge Malaysia.
Only 8.8% do not want the vaccine, while 11.8% are not sure, according to the poll conducted between Jan 15 and 28 (yesterday) that received 2,013 responses. Of those who are not sure, 77% are concerned over side effects, 11% want a choice of vaccine, while 12% have other concerns, which largely surround trust issues over the speed at which vaccines are being produced. Others are fearful of side effects given pre-existing health conditions and allergies. There are also those who do not think they need the vaccine, noting the need to continue wearing masks and observe social-distancing rules after getting the jab.
Close to 77% of the 2,013 respondents are from the Klang Valley (Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya), though every state is represented by between four and 930 people.
Incidentally, 76.8% of the respondents are aged below 50, while 8.1% are above 60 years old — people whom the Ministry of Health (MoH) hope to inoculate alongside individuals with chronic illnesses (under phase two) after completing it for frontline workers (phase one).
The poll results are similar to headline findings of a survey of 1,000 people by online market research firm Milieu Insight that was commissioned by The Straits Times of Singapore. The survey, which ran from Dec 3 to 7, found that 48% will get a vaccine when it is available, 34% will wait six to 12 months, and only 9% say they would not get a jab at all.
More than 113,000 people in Singapore have reportedly received their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine, whose inoculation drive began with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong receiving the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Jan 8.
Meanwhile, Malaysia, which aims to immunise 75,000 people a day from March in its drive towards achieving herd immunity, is expecting its first shipment of one million doses of Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech to arrive by end-February. Another 11.8 million doses from Pfizer-BioNTech are slated to arrive in phases by year end, bringing coverage to 20% of the population (6.4 million people with two doses each).
The country, which has bought 25 million doses from Pfizer-BioNTech in total and is part of the World Health Organization (WHO)-backed COVAX initiative, has also made arrangements to obtain vaccines from other sources, including AstraZeneca-Oxford University, China’s Sinovac Lifesciences Co Ltd (CoronaVac) and Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology (for Sputnik V).
When announcing that Malaysia would soon begin registration for Covid-19 vaccines, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba said 67% of 212,000 respondents in an online survey by the ministry on vaccine receptiveness want the Covid-19 vaccine, 90% of whom are confident of its efficacy. Only 16% of the respondents in the survey (which ran from Dec 21 to 28 last year) reject the vaccine, while the remaining 17% who are unsure are concerned over side effects and efficacy rates, he said then.
The government aims to vaccinate 70% or 23 million of the population to develop herd immunity, as well as protect the frontliners, reduce mortality rates and break the chain of infection, Adham reportedly said during RTM's Bicara DR programme on Jan 14. At least 49 countries had approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which was the first vaccine to receive emergency use validation from the WHO, he said.
For more details of The Edge Covid-19 poll, pick up a print copy of The Edge Malaysia out tomorrow (Jan 30) or subscribe to our digital paper.