New centre ramps up drive


Calm and coordinated: People waiting at the observation area after being vaccinated at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium vaccination centre on the first day. Recipients are being monitored for 15 minutes after their vaccination. — ART CHEN/The Star

PETALING JAYA: The beep of his mobile phone felt like an auspicious sign for K. Vickneshwaran. It was, as it ended his long wait to receive his Covid-19 vaccine shot.

Although it was sent at such short notice, Vickneshwaran accepted it without hesitancy.

“I received my vaccination appointment for Monday at around 8.30pm on Sunday. I informed my boss that I’ll be taking two days leave to get my shot,” he said at Bukit Jalil Stadium mega vaccination centre (PPV), which began operations yesterday.

Vickneshwaran said he had been waiting for a while but finally got his much-needed shot. He’s the latest in his family to get vaccinated.

“My two brothers and sister-in-law got theirs recently,” he said.

Vickneshwaran, who works at an airline’s food and beverage department, said he and his family had prepared themselves mentally to receive the vaccine.

“Hopefully, I won’t experience any side effects,” he said.

Jason Wong and his wife Sum Pei Jing felt lucky to receive their appointments on the same day after waiting five months.

After receiving their shots, Wong, 38, and Sum, 26, waited in line to have their pictures taken at the PPV’s photobooth to commemorate the day.

“The process was very smooth. It felt like it was over in two or three minutes,” he said.

Another at the stadium was marketing executive Norhafizah Ahmad Shabri, 33.

“Finally! I got it after registering myself in February. I was getting really worried especially with the rising cases,” she said.

She was among the 3,000 to receive the Sinovac vaccine at the Bukit Jalil Stadium.

National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme coordinating Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said although the venue was big enough to give out 10,000 vaccines a day, it was normal for a new vaccination centre to start small.

“The number will be ramped up to 50% in three days before it operates at 100% in a week’s time,” he said.

Khairy visited the mega PPV in the Klang Valley to monitor its first day of operations.

“A few people said they got their messages two or three days before their appointments but they accepted it because they wanted to get vaccinated quickly,” he said, adding that the reason for the short notices was to further ramp up the vaccination drive in accordance with the National Recovery Plan (NRP).

With the opening of the mega PPV at Bukit Jalil Stadium, the National Sport Complex in Bukit Jalil, the goal looks to be within reach. Bukit Jalil now has two PPVs within its vicinity. The other is the Axiata Arena, which can cater to 4,000 people.

The Bukit Jalil Stadium will handle vaccine recipients aged below 60 while Axiata Arena is reserved for senior citizens and people with disabilities (OKU).

Khairy said there were plans to open up more mega PPVs to ramp up the nation’s vaccination drive but that would depend on the arrival of supplies.

The government is planning on achieving herd immunity by getting 80% of the population vaccinated by October as it prepares to fully open up the economy by year-end in accordance with the National Recovery Plan. Prime Minster Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had said that the success of the plan hinged on how quickly the number of Covid-19 cases could be brought down. And how fast the vaccination drive could achieve its target.

At the same time, the government was also looking to open smaller scale mega PPVs, known as Tier 2 mega PPVs, that would cater to 3,000 and 5,000 recipients.

“We are looking to open up more of those in Seremban,” he said.

Khairy also clarified that the mega PPV at Bukit Jalil could not be opened earlier because the government did not have the supply.

“That would have been wasteful,” he said.

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