PETALING JAYA: They were initially hesitant, but Malaysians in the United Kingdom who got vaccinated are now grateful to have had the chance.
To them, the benefits of taking the vaccines were greater than the potential risks, and they said they had not experienced any severe side effects.
Healthcare worker Eva Chan, 27, said she was “very grateful” when she received the news that she fulfilled the criteria to be vaccinated.
“I was a little worried at first. I didn’t immediately get vaccinated when they offered it because my family and friends back home suggested that I wait for a little while.
“But almost 90% of my colleagues whom I know already had it, and it felt like getting the vaccine was the next step for things to get back to normal, ” said the paediatric speech and language therapist.
Getting the vaccine, she added, was like a social responsibility.
“If everyone is too concerned about the minor side effects, then things will never get back to normal.
“Besides, the vaccines have been tested in trials. I know it can be scary, but we’re doing it for the community, ” she said.
The NHS Trust that she works for had emailed all staff members about the vaccine.
“Someone contacted me the next day to arrange a date and time, ” she added.
On Jan 19, Chan went to the hospital, where she completed a consent form and was briefed by the nurse about potential side effects.
After she received the jab, she was asked to wait for another 15 minutes for monitoring before she booked her next appointment for the second dose.
“I feel absolutely fine after the vaccine, ” she said, but added that she had to visit the bathroom more than usual, though she was not sure if it was related to the vaccine.
Yap Hong Yau, a medical student in the United Kingdom, said he was eligible to receive the jab on Jan 14 as he was doing his clinical placement there.
“Our university advised whoever we were placed with to offer students a dose if there was availability, ” said Yap, 20.
Although it was not mandatory for him to be vaccinated, he decided to go ahead with it as he wanted to provide medical care to others uninhibited.
Initially, Yap was hesitant about the Pfizer vaccine as it was created with newer technology which utilises mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) to produce protein that will trigger an immune response.
“I mentioned my preference for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, but it had been allocated entirely for care homes, ” he said.
Yap weighed the pros and cons carefully before deciding to take the jab.
“My clinical experience would have been limited in certain areas without the vaccine. For instance, I would not have been allowed to accompany my GP to care home visits, ” he said.
He got the jab on the first day of the community vaccine rollout in his area, which was held in a community hall.
“The rollout was for those aged 80 and above, and for vulnerable people.
“There were around 120 people vaccinated that day, and because the Pfizer vaccine requires a 15-
minute monitoring period after the vaccination, it took a while, ” he said.
After getting the jab, he felt great and was more energetic than usual, though there were some mild side effects.
“My arm felt very sore on the second day, more than when I had taken the conventional flu jab.
“Surprisingly, the recovery time was also a lot shorter than the flu jab. In less than 24 hours, I recovered, ” he said.
Some of his colleagues, Yap added, experienced headaches and tiredness, though it was nothing severe.
“My advice to Malaysians would be to get vaccinated as soon as you’re offered the chance, especially if your work requires you to travel and be in crowded areas.
“However, if you have a history of serious allergies or bad reactions to vaccines, be careful and think twice. Consult a doctor.
“Finally, being vaccinated is not a ‘free pass’ for you to go out and about. We still need to adhere to the SOP (standard operating procedure), ” he said.
As for junior doctor Tan Chern Yan, he described his experience as a mix of excitement and nervousness.
“No one can force you to take the vaccine but in my personal view, if the vaccine can give you some protection, you are at least more protected than those who are not vaccinated, ” he said.
Tan, 28, said his hospital, being one of the vaccination sites, had emailed its staff with a questionnaire about possible allergies and other health considerations.
He booked his slot for early January and during the appointment, he had to show the confirmation email and was screened by a nurse before he was vaccinated.
“Prior to this, I had a brief read about the vaccine, such as its ingredients and trial reports, to prepare myself for the vaccination.
“For those of us working on the front lines, we have seen and experienced a very tough year. I was keen to have something positive to end this pandemic, ” Tan added.