Allaying fears about vaccination


A screengrab of the online session with (clockwise, from top right) Dr Jagdeep, Sukhveer, Daljit and Chong Eng.

FAITH-BASED organisations in Penang can play a role in keeping the local community safe from Covid-19 by appealing to their respective followers to get themselves vaccinated.

State social development and non-Islamic religious affairs committee chairman Chong Eng said this during a virtual Vaccination Q&A Session conducted by Wadda Gurdwara Sahib Penang.

Streamed on Facebook, the session addressed many common questions, concerns and misconceptions people have about Covid-19 vaccination.

“The experiences of other countries show that the number of cases will decline once a large percentage of the population is vaccinated. As such, sessions like these are important.

“We intend to hold more with other religious communities. Together, we can keep our state safe,” Chong Eng said, adding that the immediate objective is to bring the average number of cases over seven days down to 109 or less.

“This would allow Penang to meet one of the criteria required to move into Phase Three of the National Recovery Plan.

“Besides that, 40% of the adult population must also have received their second dose of the vaccine, and usage of hospital facilities must be at a comfortable level.”

Panellist Dr Jagdeep Singh, a medical officer with Penang Hospital, said everyone has a role to play in ending the pandemic and cautioned against blindly believing anything one hears from friends.

He fielded questions posed by viewers, such as whether vaccination is suitable for specific demographics such as the elderly, expectant mothers or those suffering from certain ailments.

“We advise the elderly to be vaccinated. Only a few specific groups such as cancer patients are advised to defer.

“The simple thing is to register and go for your appointment where you will be assessed and advised whether to get the vaccine or not,” Dr Jagdeep said.

On how to change the minds of anti- vaxxers, he shared, “Anti-vaxxers usually have some misconception or doubt like whether being injected with a foreign substance might affect their body, give them cancer or even impact their fertility.

“So the best way to get through to them is with data and facts. If you know someone who is a medical professional, try to enlist their help.”

On the misconception that vaccines are just water and do not work, Dr Jagdeep pointed to how people who get jabbed typically develop some slight signs or symptoms which show that their bodies are working to fight off something.

“Phase 2 of the vaccination drive is targeted at senior citizens. As a result, the rate of infection among seniors have significantly decreased. We’re also seeing a lot more asymptomatic cases rather than those who are coming in extremely ill,” he shared.

Responding to a viewer who asked why some still get infected after vaccination, he explained, “What a vaccine does is trains your immune system to fight off a virus. Once it has this experience, it responds much faster and kills or clears out the virus before it can cause severe disease.”

“Even if you think you are strong and healthy, when your body encounters Covid-19 for the first time it still doesn’t have that experience. So no matter how fit you are, you still need to vaccinate.”

He also offered some general advice in the session last Tuesday - “You don’t need to consume any special medication, herbs or vitamins before vaccination. Just go for your appointment as normal.

“For those who develop a fever or body aches, drink a lot of water to keep your body cool and hydrated. If the pain is unbearable, you can take Panadol but nothing else. If the discomfort and mild and tolerable, just rest and relax.”

Besides getting vaccinated, Chong Eng also appealed to everyone to continue to take precautions and follow SOPs, as the government cannot overcome the pandemic on its own. It needs the cooperation and even a little sacrifice from the rakyat.

As one of the state leaders to get vaccinated early on, she said she was glad to lead by example. She also expressed hope that the Federal Government can supply vaccines fast enough to meet capacity in Penang.

“We can currently administer 35,000 doses per day. Many NGOs and the private sector are also ready and willing to help out,” she added.

In closing the session, Wadda Gurdwara Sahib Penang president Daljit Singh and honorary secretary Sukhveer Kaur both echoed appeals for everyone to get themselves protected.

“Those in the high-risk group, see your doctor and they will advise you accordingly. For senior citizens using old mobile phones and unable to install the MySejahtera app, you can walk-in to vaccination centres,” Daljit said.

To view the full Q&A, visit https://www.facebook.com/waddagurdwarasahib.penang.

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