KUCHING: Three journalists from Kuching have become the first in the country to receive the Covid-19 vaccine along with other frontliners.
They were among 13 media personnel in Sarawak selected for inclusion in the first phase of the state’s vaccination programme, which began yesterday.
A total of 132 frontliners received the vaccination at the Kota Samarahan health clinic.
The Star photographer Zulazhar Sheblee, who was among those receiving the jab at the clinic, said he felt privileged to be one of the first media personnel in Malaysia to be vaccinated.
“As a photographer, I’m often out in the field covering assignments in Covid-19 red zones. After getting the vaccine, I feel more confident about going out on assignments now.
“We are thankful to the state government and state disaster management committee for giving us the opportunity to be vaccinated first.
“Thanks also to all the other frontliners who have been working tirelessly, ” he said.
Zulazhar said he felt nervous while waiting for his turn to be vaccinated, but the injection did not hurt.
“The nurse was very professional and so far, I have not experienced any side effects, ” he added.
Utusan Borneo journalist Saibi Gi, who was also vaccinated yesterday, thanked the state government for recognising the media’s role as frontliners.
“It’s reasonable for journalists to be included among the frontliners for the vaccine as we go out on assignments and meet people when covering events.
“It’s good for us to be vaccinated in order to protect ourselves and those around us, ” he said, adding that he hopes the public would be willing to get vaccinated for their protection.
Rudi Affendi Khalik from Astro Awani Sarawak said the vaccination process was quick, friendly and painless.
“Getting vaccinated is part of our duty to ensure that everyone is safe from Covid-19, ” he said.
Federation of Sarawak Journalists Associations president Jacqueline Radoi David said the rest of the selected journalists would be vaccinated between today and March 4.
“We are honoured to be part of the vaccination programme, even though it comes in stages. For this first phase, only 13 slots are given to us, encompassing journalists from Kuching, Sibu and Miri.
“Thereafter, other media personnel will be included in phases two and three, ” she said.
Jacqueline added that it was crucial for reporters to be vaccinated first as many were on the ground gathering news during the pandemic.
“The vaccination is timely for us, especially those who are in direct contact with the public. We need to protect ourselves and our loved ones.
“We are indeed thankful to the state government for including us in the first phase, ” she said.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg also received the Covid-19 vaccine at the Petra Jaya health clinic at 3pm yesterday.
Also receiving the vaccine were Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian and state health director Dr Chin Zin Hing.
Dr Sim, a cardiologist by profession, joked that he was usually the one administering injections but was now on the receiving end.
Samarahan divisional dental officer Dr Thaddius Herman Maling said he did not experience any side effects 30 minutes after receiving the jab.
He called on Sarawakians not to be afraid of taking the vaccine, which is provided free by the government.
Sarawak received its first batch of 23,400 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Wednesday evening.
Five more shipments will be sent to the state for a total of 87,750 doses for the first phase until March 31, which covers frontliners.
Phases two and three, covering elderly and high-risk individuals and those above 18, are scheduled to start on April 1.