PUTRAJAYA: The first group of students who are getting vaccinated under the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK) for Adolescents here today are excited to receive their first dose and cannot wait to go back to school.
The programme for students aged between 12 and 17 kicked off at SMK Putrajaya Precinct 8, with 323 youths aged 16 and 17.
Form Five student of the school Muhd Ihsan Syafiqin was thankful to receive the first dose of the vaccine.
“I am relieved because after this, I can do daily activities such as sports and go to school with my friends,” he told Bernama.
Haziq Zafri Hiruddin, 17, said teenagers should not be scared of getting vaccinated because vaccines were among the paths out of the pandemic.
“I miss going to school and seeing my teachers and friends and doing co-curriculum activities together,” he said.
Narmetha Regunathan, 17, said vaccination for teenagers would enable them to return to a more normal way of life.
Most parents also expressed relief over the implementation of the PICK for Adolescents.
Muhd Ihsan’s mother Mas’amah Ibrahim, 54, said: “He is the only one in our family who has not been vaccinated. After this, I will be more confident if he goes to school or asks to go out with his friends.”
Narmetha’s father, Nathan Vaithi, 56, advised other parents to get their children vaccinated. “Now, I am relieved. Vaccination is a way forward to exit isolation,” he said.
In Johor Baru, Form Five student R. Lovermath, accompanied by his mother R. Kala, said the vaccination was the first and most important step for students to finally be able to attend physical classes again.
“After attending online classes at home since last year, I still prefer physical classes where there is better interaction with our teachers.
“Going back to school also means that I can meet my friends again.
“I’m excited to be able to finally dine out with my parents once I’ve completed my vaccination, as both of them are already fully vaccinated,” Lovermath said when met at SMK Taman Daya here yesterday.
Another Form Five student Yee Chin Hoong said he literally jumped for joy when he received his vaccination appointment last week.
“My father immediately applied for leave from work to accompany me to get my vaccination.
“My parents have both completed their vaccinations and that gives me the confidence to receive mine,” said Chin Hoong. Both teenagers were among the 325 students who received their vaccination at SMK Taman Daya. A total of 29 students did not turn up due to various reasons including those who tested positive for Covid-19.
Meanwhile, Johor education, information, heritage and culture committee chairman Mazlan Bujang, who visited the school, said a total of 87,486 Form Four and Form Five students in the state would be vaccinated under PICK.
He said the vaccine would be dispensed in stages at 173 secondary schools statewide.
“The first dose will be given to the students by November and the second dose is expected to be completed by the end of December,” he added.
Some parents could not get their children ready for the vaccination due to the lack of Internet access for registration, transportation and difficulty in applying for leave from work to accompany them to the vaccination centre at the schools.
Mazlan believed that the issues would be ironed out soon.
He said 563 teachers in the state still refused to get the Covid-19 vaccine, with the majority of them citing health issues as the main concern.
“Most of them are pregnant teachers who expressed their concerns about the vaccine affecting their baby, while others have existing health conditions. We will not force them as many pregnant teachers have told us they want to get vaccinated after giving birth,” he said.
In August, he revealed at the Johor state assembly that 779 teachers in the state declined to be vaccinated against the virus.
This caught the attention of Tunku Mahkota Johor Tunku Ismail Ibni Sultan Ibrahim, who met with the teachers virtually over the matter.
Mazlan thanked Tunku Ismail for his effort in reassuring the teachers, which led to 216 of them changing their mind about the vaccine.
“There are about 200 teachers among the 563 who have rejected the Covid-19 vaccine without any health reasons.
“We will leave it to Education Ministry to take action against them as we (at the state level) have no authority to do so,” Mazlan said, adding that Johor has about 48,000 teachers.