Making it convenient will help boost vaccination rate in Perak

The first drive-through vaccination kiosk at Stadium Indera Mulia, Ipoh is effective.­ — Filepic

AS A member of the media and a frontliner, I count myself fortunate to have completed my Covid-19 vaccination.

But for the majority of Perak folk, including some of my family members and extended kin, it is still a waiting game.

To many Perakians, the national immunisation programme, which is in its second phase, seems to be moving slowly.

Since it started in April, only about 16% of the adult population in the state have had their first jab.

According to statistics, 303,493 people had received their first dose as of June 26.

On June 29, the figure rose to 313,917, which means only 10,424 people were vaccinated over 72 hours.

This averages out to about 3,474 people daily, which is a far cry from Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Saarani Mohamad’s target to achieve 15,000 jabs each day in June.

To put it into perspective, there are about 1.87 million adults in Perak, and the number of people in the state who have registered is about 1.18 million or 63% of the total adult population.

There are a few issues believed to be hampering the progress of vaccinations.

They include people who have missed their appointments, fear of side effects and lack of transportation.

Another issue faced by some is getting vaccination appointments at far-away locations.

Just recently, I received a complaint from a hardware shop owner in Lenggong that he and his wife were notified to get their vaccination in Pengkalan Hulu.

The 61-year-old man was scheduled to get his jab on June 29 and his wife, the following day.

The distance between Lenggong and Pengkalan Hulu is about 97km and it takes about an hour-and-a-half to drive there.

This means a round trip will take an estimated three hours.

Fortunately, the shopowner and his wife were able to change the vaccination location to a centre in Lenggong.

Other incidents included a Sitiawan native who was asked to fly to Kuching, Sarawak for the jab, while a lawyer from Ipoh was told to go to Port Dickson, Negri Sembilan.

Some people may feel vexed by the need to travel long distances and decide to forego their appointment.

Not everyone is savvy enough to know what to do in such a situation.

So the government should make it easier for everyone, especially senior folk, to get their vaccination.

Convenience is the key word here, whereby more must be done to facilitate and enable easy access to the vaccine.

Local state representatives too, must play their part in disseminating information to their constituents on what to do if they have a problem, or better still — help them resolve it.

Perak has started several initiatives to ramp up the vaccination rate, which includes having a drive-through kiosk at Stadium Indera Mulia that began operating last month.

Mobile vaccination services are also being deployed to dispense jabs at Orang Asli villages and old folks homes, while transportation services are available to ferry people to the vaccination centres.

Several private hospitals, clinics and medical practitioners also joined the vaccination programme to help administer the vaccine.

There should be more mobile vaccination teams to reach out to those in smaller towns and rural areas.

Each district in the state should have at least two to three teams, depending on its population, to speed up the vaccination rate.

With the emergence of the more easily transmittable coronavirus variants, the clock is truly ticking for all of us.

For the time being, people just have to stay safe and wait patiently until they get called up for the jab.

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