Grateful for extra financial help

Follow me: Malaysian Civil Defence Force staff Norhafizah Hanim Hairman waving the Jalur Gemilang to usher those coming to get vaccinated to their designated queue at the mega vaccination centre, Axiata Arena. — YAP CHEE HONG/The Star

PETALING JAYA: Being part of the national vaccination drive has been a great experience for two young doctors who believe the lessons gained will help them overcome future challenges.

Dr Teoh Cher Shong and Dr Chuah Su Ying, both 27, just completed their internship at Universiti Malaya Medical Centre and decided to become health volunteers while waiting for their placements as medical officers.

“I’m encouraged by people’s enthusiasm to get vaccinated despite rumours and fake information spread by anti-vaxxers.

“It makes it all worthwhile,” said Dr Teoh when met at the mega vaccination centre at Bukit Jalil National Stadium.

Dr Chuah shared similar enthusiasm, saying the experience also offered her a chance to meet different people.

“Many look scared to take it (the vaccine) at first, but were relieved afterwards,” she said.

Dr Chuah, who is interested in looking into public health later in her career, said her experience as a volunteer in the vaccination programme would give her more confidence to spread the word about practising good hygiene and taking precautionary measures during a pandemic.

Both doctors were encouraged by the increase in the goodwill payments for volunteers starting this month.

“We’re thankful that the government has decided to do this, and it will uplift the spirit of health volunteers who have been working long hours,” said Dr Teoh.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced that the government had increased the consolation payment from RM50 a day to RM100 a day for health volunteers working more than 12 hours a day.

In Penang, Muhammad Eirfan Firhan, 18, a volunteer at the vaccination centre at the Penang Pesta site in Sungai Nibong, was happy to hear the news on the increment.

“This is a great motivation for volunteers like myself, as most of us are volunteering our hours in the hopes of spending time in a meaningful way.

“I did not manage to find a job after my SPM, so I came here to volunteer. I see this time as a transition period for myself while I wait to further my studies.” he said.

Civil Defence Force member Chin How Zet, 20, who is also a volunteer at Penang Pesta centre, said he was happy for those who will be enjoying the extra consolation payment although as a member of the force, he was not eligible.

“We are seeing about 17 volunteers at this site so far and it would help the Rela, Civil Defence Force and health authorities if the volunteers stay on for the duration of the national vaccination programme.

“As the previous payments for volunteers were low, they tend to move on or take up new jobs when they find one. This affected the workflow as there might be a reduction in manpower and we will have to train new volunteers again.”

A Rela member who wanted to be known only as Atie, 45, said this would motivate the volunteers.

“The increment will definitely encourage more people to join as volunteers, and indirectly lessen the burden of the other department workers here,” said Atie.

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