Country's vaccination drive on track, says Brunei minister

BANDAR SERI NEGAWAN, May 22 (Borneo Bulletin/ANN): As of May 19, the number of people receiving Covid-19 vaccinations in Brunei Darussalam was over 30,000.

“For Brunei, the figure is on track as the country started the vaccination programme about a month ago before the fasting month, ” said Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar, during a press conference at the Ministry of Health (MoH).

“So far, it has reached about five per cent of the country’s total population, and we would like to see more people being vaccinated. It is hoped that by the end of the year, the vaccination programme will achieve 70 per cent of population being immunised and vaccinated.”

He also affirmed that the vaccines are free for residents and citizens of Brunei, as well as for foreign nationals and expatriates residing and working in the country.

As to whether visitor pass holders were also eligible, the minister said, “Provided that they have been residing in the country for over 30 days, they are also eligible for the free vaccines.

Meanwhile, the opt-in programme for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine carried out by the MoH since early May will be temporarily halted, to give way for students about to undergo further studies or attend their graduation ceremony abroad.

The minister said, “Since the start of the opt-in programme, the response from the public has been very encouraging; it shows that people are very knowledgeable about the vaccines and able to make the right decisions. They are also able to evaluate the risks and advantages of getting vaccinated.

“Hopefully, after we have finished vaccinating the students, we can continue the opt-in programme, as there will be over 30,000 AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines coming into the country by mid-June.”

At the same time, the minister reminded, “for those about to travel overseas, the vaccine is part of the control, as it does not prevent anyone from being infected by Covid-19. They still can be infected; however, their symptoms would be very mild and they must complete their two doses of vaccination.

“At the moment, we are offering the SinoPharm vaccine to students about to depart soon. However, if they prefer AstraZeneca, they must find out whether the vaccine is available or accessible in the country that they are travelling to, for their second dose.

“We are continuing to assess the students who will be going overseas. They can receive their vaccines, as we would like them to be vaccinated before embarking on further studies abroad”. - Borneo Bulletin/ANN

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