It has been over a year since the COVID-19 outbreak first reached the shores of Malaysia. Although the fight against the virus had already begun as soon as the first case of an infection on Malaysian soil was identified, things only truly changed for the Malaysian public on March 18th 2020, the day that the very first movement control order (MCO) was put into effect, and more than a year before the first Malaysia COVID-19 vaccine would be made available.
Since that day, Malaysians have found themselves in the “new normal” – a new state of society with ever-changing SOPs, regulations and restrictions applying to almost all aspects of daily life, from business operations and interstate travel to dining in restaurants. In the midst of Malaysia’s progression from the MCO, to the CMCO (conditional movement control order), to RMCO (recovery movement control order), the rate of COVID-19 infection in the country has also been in constant flux, with Malaysian residents having to constantly be wary of possible surges of positive cases in their surroundings, particularly in densely populated areas.
Fortunately, there is hope for a reprieve on the horizon, as the Malaysia COVID-19 vaccine rollout has officially begun, with the first batch of vaccines being administered in April this year (2021). As the opportunity for all Malaysians to adopt this crucial measure against the virus approaches, we took the opportunity to investigate how Malaysians feel about the COVID-19 vaccine – their perceptions and sentiments.
How did we get here?
During the initial MCO period, Malaysia saw the number of COVID-19 infections rise by triple digits on a daily basis, and it was only after a full month that the daily number of new infections dropped back to double digits. By this point, the initial 2 week duration of the MCO had already been extended twice with the intention of giving the Malaysian health system more time to cope with the number of infections that had already accumulated up to that point. As time went on, restrictions were gradually loosened as Malaysia transitioned to the CMCO on 4th May 2020, followed by the RMCO on 10th June 2020, with each stage having fewer restrictions on businesses and the daily lives of Malaysians.
From March to June 2020, the MCO appeared to be effective in limiting the transmission of COVID-19, as the number of daily new infections had dropped to a weekly average of less than 10 new positive cases per day by the end of June. For the next couple of months, Malaysia enjoyed a relatively low transmission rate, with the number of new daily cases remaining consistently around the low double digits.
However, the situation quickly escalated later in the year. Throughout September, the number of daily cases gradually rose, to the point where the total number of daily cases reached triple digits once again on the 25th of September with 111 new infections reported on that day. This rise in cases coincided with the Sabah State Election which was held on 26th September 2020, and the movement of people in and out of the state for the purposes of the election resulted in more positive cases being detected around the various states of Malaysia.
On the 7th of November, the government announced that CMCO restrictions would be reinstated throughout most of peninsular Malaysia in an attempt to curb the number of infections. However by then, the weekly average of daily cases had already reached more than 1000 cases per day. With the CMCO soon proving ineffective in controlling the numerous outbreaks and new infection clusters that had appeared around Malaysia, MCO restrictions were once again put into place on the 13th of January 2021. The number of daily cases continued to rise, and on the 4th of February, Malaysia set a new record for the most number of new cases on a single day, with 4571 cases being reported on that day alone.
As Malaysia continues it’s battle against COVID-19, with cases continuing to rise with no current reprieve, Malaysians can only pin their hopes on what is most likely the only thing that can suppress the outbreak once and for all: The National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme.
The National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme
The National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme (NCIP) is a program designed by the government and ministry of health which aims to provide free COVID-19 vaccines to all Malaysian residents by the year 2022.
As of now, Malaysia has secured 66.7 million doses for the Malaysia COVID-19 vaccine effort. These doses have been secured from five different suppliers around the world and are scheduled to arrive in stages starting from February 2021.
The five different vaccines that will be used in the National Immunisation Programme are as follows:
Vaccination under this programme is voluntary and will be provided free of charge to everyone living in Malaysia including both citizens and non-citizens. As of now, only those above the age of 18 are eligible for the programme, but this may change in the future.
The Malaysia COVID-19 vaccine roll-out will take place over 3 phases, with each phase having its own priority groups of people to be vaccinated over a certain timeframe.
Phase 1 (February – April 2021) – 500,000 people
- Frontliners comprising of public and private healthcare personnel
- Frontliners consisting of essential services, defence and security personnel
Phase 2 (April – August 2021) – 9.4 million people
- Remaining healthcare workers who were not included in Phase 1, as well as those working in essential services and defence and security personnel.
- Senior Citizens (age 60 and over)
- People with chronic diseases e.g. heart disease, obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.
- People with disabilities (OKU)
Phase 3 (May 2021 – February 2022) – >13.7 million people
- Adult population age 18 years and above.
- Priority will be given to those in the red zones, followed by those in the yellow zones and finally those in green zones.
Vaccinations are being carried out at Malaysia COVID-19 Vaccine Administration Centres set up by the Ministry of Health, with 605 planned locations nationwide including temporary vaccination centres at stadiums, convention centres, community halls, universities and other appropriate facilities. Malaysian residents can now register for the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme through the MySejaterah app, which will also be used for individuals to report their physical condition and any side effects they may experience following the vaccination.
So, What do Malaysians Think of the COVID-19 Vaccine?
Now that there is a vaccine available for COVID-19…
26% of Malaysians said that they were very happy that the vaccine is now available, and overall, 61% of Malaysians have a positive feeling towards the vaccine.
17% of Malaysians can be said to be cautiously optimistic, stating that they were happy about the vaccine but also worried about possible complications at the same time, while 22% of Malaysians stated they were just plainly worried.
However, since none of the respondents stated that they were very worried, it appears that for now Malaysians have an overall positive outlook regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.
How about feelings regarding being vaccinated for COVID-19?
When it comes to the prospect of actually receiving the vaccine, a total of 94% of Malaysians stated that they were willing and able to get vaccinated, which bodes well for the public health of Malaysians moving forward.
52% of Malaysians are willing to be vaccinated despite being worried about side effects that may occur after receiving the vaccine, and just 2% of Malaysians do not want to be vaccinated if possible.
Finally, the remaining 4% of Malaysians stated that they want to be vaccinated but are unable to take the vaccine due to their health condition.
And, have they registered for COVID-19 Vaccination yet?
Reflecting the positive response to the prospect of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine that we saw in the earlier questions, we see from our data that 75% of Malaysians claimed that they have already registered for the COVID-19 vaccination.
According to the schedule for the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme, frontliners and high risk groups such as the elderly and those with chronic diseases will be prioritized for the vaccine, while the majority of average Malaysians will most likely only be able to receive their vaccine towards the end of this year or even in 2022.
The fact that the majority of Malaysians we spoke to have already registered for the vaccine despite this is highly encouraging as it demonstrates an eagerness amongst most Malaysians to be vaccinated as soon as possible. Furthermore, the high % of registered Malaysians is also an indicator that the JKJAV has made it easy for anyone to register, with the MySejaterah being a convenient registration method that has been a successful tool for coordinating the Malaysian vaccination effort thus far.
Have they been vaccinated for COVID-19 yet?
Despite the Malaysian public’s enthusiasm towards getting vaccinated, the road ahead is still long as only 3% of respondents have received the vaccine so far. As a matter of fact, looking at the exact number of vaccinations in Malaysia so far, we find that around 905,000 people have been fully vaccinated with both doses of the vaccine, which amounts to just 3% of the total population of the total population.
The National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme is underway and we have already made a decent amount of progress, with more than a million and a half Malaysians already being fully vaccinated since April. Given the eagerness and positive outlook that Malaysians have displayed towards being vaccinated, we can be hopeful and cautiously optimistic that we will eventually be able to suppress the COVID-19 pandemic once more Malaysians have been successfully vaccinated. In the meantime, please stay safe and continue to practice social distancing!
If you would like to dive deeper into the data and insights regarding vaccination and the COVID-19 pandemic in Malaysia, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org