The doubtful among the herd

Chan Saw Eng, 72, receiving the vaccine at the Penang Pesta centre in Sungai Nibong, Penang. Also present is Bayan Baru MP Sim Tze Zin. — Filepic

ALL of us are getting an overdose of the vaccine news these days.

The Malaysian style of greeting each other has changed.

Instead of asking “Have you eaten?”, we ask “Have you been vaccinated yet?”

Newsmen are now familiar faces in the vaccination centres in Penang as we follow politicians who constantly visit the centres and talk hopefully about reaching herd immunity.

It still seems like a tall order for Penang to see at least 70% or 1.38 million of the state population vaccinated by August.

There is progress, though.

I have observed more people getting their first doses over the last couple of weeks.

I am waiting for mine. A few of my friends had their jabs already. Some have gotten appointment dates.

“Why wait, since the vaccine is free and probably, we might not be able to travel in the future if we are not vaccinated,” said a friend.

However another friend of mine who is a counsellor at a university in Kuala Lumpur has her doubts.

“I will only get vaccinated if someone holds a knife to my throat and that too, only if the dose is Pfizer,” she said.

“We are guinea pigs for those vaccines.

“I am not interested in herd immunity and am definitely not following the herd mentality,” she added.

I respect her opinion. She is not against vaccination per se and is more concerned about which brand of vaccine to get, if she was compelled to get it.

My father, who is 88 years old, has a simple analogy of how one can withstand any virus attack.

He was on traditional medication for years and has volumes of books on the subject.

One interesting story he has is about a particular herb described in several books that will give you immunity against any virus or disease.

“Deep in the jungle of the remotest parts of India, you need to look for the mongoose and cobra, which are sworn enemies, locked in a duel.

“In most cases, the mongoose kills the cobra with a bite on the head but there are times when the cobra bites the mongoose first.

“When this happens, the mongoose runs fast to a particular spot where a certain plant grows and will roll in it, nullifying the cobra venom.

“That is the plant we need to attain for full immunisation.”

I was bewildered when he told me this. My father certainly seems immune to a lot of diseases. He has also met with accidents numerous times, yet he survives.

But the mongoose story begs many questions.

How do we know which jungle, exactly? How do you find those two animals in a fight to the death? How do you chase a mongoose through a dense jungle till it finds that particular bush?

My father never answered any of those questions. But he did answer my next question.

“Why did you give up traditional medicine for your mild diabetes and started taking modern medicine instead?”

My father loves tea and coffee, richly laced with condensed milk.

He says traditional medicine for diabetes only works if you are on a strict diet.

“I want to eat well and enjoy my food. That is what keeps me strong today. All of you are poor eaters,” added my father.

So since he wants to eat to his heart’s content in his sunset years, he duly takes modern medicine to keep his blood sugar in check.

I would like to believe my aged father is strong because he grew up at a time when the food and environment were not as contaminated as they are today.

My mother, 83, is strong too and she had an aunt who gave birth to 24 children.

People were definitely stronger then.

Now, who among us is going to chase that mongoose to get a plant that will give immunity against Covid-19?

To recap, do you think you need to be vaccinated?

The simple answer is that if you are utterly sure you have a strong immune system, then it might not make much of a difference whether you are vaccinated or not.

However, if you have had your fair share of the flu or cough and cold, then you had better sign up for the vaccine right away.

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covid-19 , vaccine , herd immunity , Pinang Points


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