PETALING JAYA: The National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme has kicked off in earnest, with Selangor being the first state to vaccinate its medical frontliners.
After the launch in Putrajaya the day before when Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah were the first two in the country to be injected with the first of the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, the exercise took off in Selangor yesterday.
Dr Noriah Ismail of the Selangor Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre said that 42 people, mostly medical frontliners, were among the first batch in the state to receive their vaccination at Shah Alam Hospital.
“Tomorrow (today), the other hospitals will begin vaccinating the medical frontliners according to plan and availability of the vaccine, ” said Dr Noriah when contacted.
Among those vaccinated at the hospital at the state-level launch were Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali, Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari and state executive council members.
Selangor is the state that has recorded the most number of cases since the outbreak of Covid-19 early last year, with 97,484 cases of infections and 275 deaths as of Feb 25.
The most industrialised state in the country, which has a population of 5.8 million, has also seen the highest number of clusters that involved workers, many of them foreigners, in factories and construction sites.
After Wednesday’s launch in Putrajaya, where six other Malaysian frontliners were also vaccinated along with Muhyiddin and Dr Noor Hisham, Putrajaya also started to vaccinate its medical frontliners yesterday.
Health Ministry driver Tawfik Adnan, 32, who was vaccinated yesterday, said he was very grateful to have been chosen to receive the vaccination.
“Last year, I transported Covid-19 patients from their homes to the hospital in Hulu Langat.
“Even though I had full personal protection equipment on at that time, I was fearful of getting the virus because my job requires close contact with Covid-19 patients.
“Getting the vaccine shot was something unimaginable then and I am really happy to be among the first in the country to get the vaccine.
“I was working yesterday when I took the shot, and I continued with my work after resting for 15 minutes, ” said Tawfik, who hails from Kelantan.
He has now been transferred to the Health Ministry headquarters as a pool driver but will return to the front lines next month.
Public health assistant Farid Ithnin, 46, from the Putrajaya Health Office, said that he was thankful for having been vaccinated as he swabbed Covid-19 patients and conducted disinfection as part of his daily job.
“The injection is not painful and as for now, I feel fine.
“As a father of three children, now my mind is more at ease. I will take my second vaccination dose on March 18.
“I hope more of my colleagues will get vaccinated as soon as possible, ” said Farid, who has been in the public service for 16 years.
Nurse Siti Yusniza Mohd Yusof, 38, who received the vaccine shot yesterday, will be part of the vaccinator team at Putrajaya Parcel 18 clinic when the national vaccination plan begins fully.
“I was never afraid of taking the vaccine as I need it in my line of duty, which has included swabbing and being exposed to Covid-19 patients.
“I will get my second dose on March 18. We cannot yet let down our guard as the virus is still very much out there, ” said Siti Yusniza, who has been a nurse for 14 years.
Health Ministry nursing director Devi K. Saravana Muthu said that nurses must be prioritised in the vaccination plan as they were the “heart and soul” of the healthcare system.
In the first priority group, 88,154 nurses in the public sector will be vaccinated.
“Given the evidence of ongoing Covid-19 infections among healthcare personnel, this will affect the critical role they play in caring for others.
“All categories of nurses will be first priority to receive the vaccination under the National Covid-19 Immunisation Plan, ” said Devi.
Former Universiti Malaya Medical Centre chief nursing officer Mariam Mohd Nasir said that it was vital for nurses to be among the first priority group to receive any kind of vaccination as they were among the first on the medical front line to be exposed to the virus.
“Although nurses fear the side effects of getting an expedited Covid-19 vaccine, it is important for them to take it as soon as possible as we need to give continuous specialised care to Covid-19 patients, ” she said.
“It was very wise of the government to target the medical frontliners as the topmost priority group, ” said Mariam, who is also part of the Malaysian Nurses Association.