State’s homeless get Covid-19 jabs

Fatimah (left) checking the details of homeless individuals for vaccination purposes. — ZULAZHAR SHEBLEE/The Star

NEARLY three quarters of the homeless community in Sarawak have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine as part of the state’s ongoing efforts to achieve herd immunity.

State Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah said 87 out of 121 homeless individuals (or 72%) had been given their first dose as of Aug 20, while four had completed both doses.

“We carried out an observation exercise in July to identify and locate homeless individuals throughout Sarawak.

“After that, we took the initiative to conduct a vaccination programme for them,” she said during a mobile operation to vaccinate the homeless at the Waterfront amphitheatre in Kuching.

The observation found 29 homeless individuals in Kuching, with 28 in Sibu, 24 in Miri, 18 in Bintulu, nine in Kapit, eight in Sarikei, three in Serian and one each in Samarahan and Betong.

Fatimah said the homeless vaccination operation involved various agencies, including Health Department, Welfare Department and local authorities.

It used several approaches such as bringing the homeless to vaccination centres and deploying an integrated mobile team to vaccinate them on site.

“In Miri, they are brought to a temporary shelter where they are housed until they have completed both doses,” she said.

Fatimah said it was a challenge to immunise the homeless as some of them lacked personal documents and medical records to assess their vaccination status.

There are concerns that some of them may not come forward for their second jab.

“Based on our records, we roughly know where they are so we will meet them at those locations when it is time for the second dose,” she said.

“Our hope is that no one in Sarawak who is eligible will be left out from getting vaccinated.”

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