It has been widely reported that AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccine may cause blood clots and low level of blood platelets as side effects although the European Medicines Agency and World Health Organization have deemed that the number of such cases is still relatively small. Hence, both health authorities have decided that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh its risks.
The Malaysian government is confident of its safety as well but nevertheless, has decided to distribute the AZ vaccine through a separate channel after members of the public have expressed their nervousness about its usage for the National COVID-19 Immunization Programme (NCIP). For that purpose, the Special Committee for Ensuring Access to COVID-19 Vaccine Supply (JKJAV) has opened up the registration earlier today at 12:00 PM for Selangor and Kuala Lumpur residents through its website.
Since the COVID-19 vaccine’s supply for Malaysia is expected to pick up only in June, the AZ vaccine rollout is generally the only chance for the mass public to get vaccinated much sooner. So, it goes without saying that many Malaysians are still interested to obtain the vaccine.
With only 268,000 doses available up for grabs at the moment, things were expectedly frantic. Well, in many ways, that’s exactly what happened a few hours ago.
For starters, there were reports that some managed to secure their AZ vaccine appointments as early as 11 AM. However, it turned out the site was still on pre-live staging mode and the coordinator of the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme, Ministry Khairy Jamaluddin had to step in to clarify matters.
There was a staging link that was being tested earlier. Bookings before 1200hrs are NOT recorded. Only bookings after 1200hrs are recorded. https://t.co/j4AKHpL6PB
— Khairy Jamaluddin 🇲🇾🌺 (@Khairykj) May 2, 2021
Despite the assurance above though, the actual site still went live a few minutes before 12:00 PM. Those who managed to catch the timing had a fairly smooth experience but for the rest of the crowd who went in right at noon as instructed by JKJAV, things went down the drain fairly quickly.
By 12:01 PM, all of the four designated Vaccine Administration Centres (VAC) alongside their appointment dates had disappeared from the site; as if all of the 268,000 vaccines have been fully reserved. Around 15 minutes (actual time varies) later, they reappeared again but another problem had immediately set in.
Despite finally being able to pick their venue and date, many found themselves not able to submit their selection. There was no sign or notification at all that indicates the site is actually processing users’ request and once again, it looked like a dead end.
Naturally, plenty of users then resorted to refresh the site over and over again in order to secure their appointment slot with many having no choice but to select random dates and venues just to see which one would eventually go through. The actual time varies from user to user but there were many out there who had to spend more than 20 minutes to register themselves for the vaccine.
Things appeared to be much smoother later on and eventually, all of the 268,000 slots were fully reserved after 3 hours and 19 minutes since the registration officially started. Subsequently, the registration for the waiting list also closed a few hours later and Ministry Khairy said that the next shipment of the AZ vaccine which will be taking place later this month will be prioritised for those who are on the list.
To its credit though, JKJAV’s website somehow managed to stay online despite the obvious surge of traffic. Additionally, the simplistic user interface and straightforward process helped as well.
So, it was rather unfortunate that the actual registration process turned out to be an unpleasant experience as one had to refresh the site multiple times just to secure an appointment by the unresponsive backend system. This is while battling the panic that may have set in after realising that the chance to get vaccinated within the next few weeks could be slipping away from your hands.