Many eager to sign up for AZ


Not long now: People waiting to receive the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur. The government announced one million more doses will be opened for opt-in registration later this month. — GLENN GUAN/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: Penangites are keen on the second round of opt-in for the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, which will be extended to the state starting May 23.

Handicraft shop operator Ooi Cheng Yin, 67, said she was all for Covid-19 vaccination.

“I have heard of people being reluctant to get the AstraZeneca vaccine, but I will definitely take it to get it over and done with.

“My daughter has told me about the vaccine and it seems like this is one of the best options, ” said Ooi who still goes to work daily.

Earlier, National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme coordinating minister Khairy Jamaluddin said priority would be given to senior citizens when the second round of opt-in for the AstraZeneca vaccine opened on May 23.

He said the registration for the opt-in would now include red zone states of Johor, Penang and Sarawak, apart from the Klang Valley.

He added that doses that were not taken up by senior citizens by May 26 would then be open to those aged below 60.

Ooi said she used to have an active social life but had since limited her outings after the country was hit by the pandemic.

“I have been afraid to go out unnecessarily and I am extra cautious, ” she added.

Mechanical engineer Robert Leong, 47, believes in getting vaccinated and aims to sign up when the opt-in is open to Penangites.

“I think enough research has been carried out before the vaccine was released to the public.

“From what I have read, the benefits outweigh the risks.

“It is a small percentage of people who have had serious side effects from the vaccine.

“I believe I will feel much better after being vaccinated, ” he said.

Make-up artist G. Yugesh, 31, said he would consider signing up for the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.

“I have heard that other vaccines are better. But for now, any vaccine is better than being infected with the virus.

“The right thing to do now will be to take it if there is a vaccine available.

“As a make-up artist, I am exposed to people and have to take extra precautions when attending events.

“Now, I only allow the bride to be in the room, ” he said.

“Before the pandemic, I used to allow the bride’s mother and sisters in too. Now, I have to be careful as the rooms are usually small and it will be difficult to observe physical distancing.

“I wear a mask and face shield but it is still dangerous as others usually do not wear face masks.

“Taking the vaccine would mean being protected from the virus, ” he added.

In JOHOR BARU, the government’s announcement of the second round of the opt-in is met with open arms as Johoreans are eager to get vaccinated.

Retiree Anthony Gasper, 70, said giving priority to senior citizens before opening the registration to those below 60 years old was a good idea to ensure that the elderly were not left out.

“If no priority is given to senior citizens, we will surely lose out to the younger generation who are more tech-savvy. Some of us do not have our children at home to assist us, ” he said.

The father of two, who had registered in February via the MySejahtera application for Covid-19 vaccination under the national immunisation programme, said he had been waiting and looking forward to getting vaccinated.

“It does not matter which firm the vaccine is from. I want to get the jab because it is better than not having any vaccination, ” he said, adding that he and his 62-year-old wife Mary had been paying close attention to news for Covid-19 vaccination updates.

Self-employed Kelvin Hee, 40, said he would be opting for the AstraZeneca vaccine as the high number of daily Covid-19 cases in Johor Baru was worrying.

“Many of my friends in the Klang Valley have successfully received their AstraZeneca jabs and they are feeling good despite initial side effects.

“Nevertheless, I will still get my doctor’s advice about it, ” he said.

In SARAWAK, NGO volunteer Andrew Chioh said the extension of the AstraZeneca opt-in programme to Sarawak meant that Sarawakians were now given the same options for vaccination as other Malaysians.

He said it remained to be seen how many Sarawakians would want to take it up after balancing its potential side effects with getting protection from the virus.

“For those who can’t wait much longer for their turn in the normal vaccine queue, this channel provides an alternative path to get vaccinated much sooner, ” he said, adding that what was important was to get as many people vaccinated as fast as possible to create herd immunity.

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