Malaysia begins national COVID-19 immunisation hinh anh 1Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin received the first shot of COVID-19 vaccine on February 24 (Photo from the Malaysian PM's Facebook page)

Kuala Lumpur (VNA) - Malaysia kick-started the national vaccination against COVID-19 as Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin received the first shot on February 24.

Next in line to be vaccinated were the Health Ministry’s Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah and four other high-ranking medical officials.

The national immunisation programme will be implemented in three phases, with the first from February to April for over 571,800 frontliners.

Phase two from April to August is for senior citizens aged 65 and above, high-risk groups and people with disabilities involving 9.4 million people, while phase three is from this May to February 2022, for those aged 18 and above, covering more than 13.7 million people.

The Malaysian government is targeting to get at least 80 percent of the people vaccinated to achieve herd immunity to curb and end the pandemic.

Malaysia has signed agreements to procure 66.7 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine through the COVAX Facility and five producers, including Pfizer BioNTech, AstraZeneca, and Sinovac.

Since the first ever COVID-19 case detected on January 25 last year, the country has to date recorded 288,229 infections and a death toll of 1,076.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Department of Health said on February 24 that it will investigate the illegal use of unauthorised COVID-19 vaccines, after a presidential adviser admitted to receiving shots of a Sinopharm vaccine smuggled into the country.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved the use of the Sinopharm vaccine, making its importation and distribution illegal. Sinopharm has not sought emergency use authorisation in the country.

Philippine Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire said recipients of unauthorised vaccines were also accountable.

The Philippines has yet to start immunisations or receive any COVID-19 vaccines that it has approved for emergency use./.