PETALING JAYA: Eager teenagers who hadn’t received their vaccination appointments via MySejahtera tried their luck walking into to vaccination centres (PPV) across the country yesterday, but many were left disappointed when they were turned away.
At the Axiata Arena Bukit Jalil vaccination centre yesterday, Law Wei Liang, 17, had high hopes of getting his first dose.
He said he was trying his luck, although his school had informed him that he would get an appointment.
A teacher from Subang Jaya, Selangor, who wanted to be known only as Sri, said schools would inform parents of the designated vaccination centres and the scheduled dates so that they can accompany their children for their shots.
As an example, Sri said that his school came under the purview of the Petaling Perdana zone, hence he said it would only be sending students to the Management and Science University (MSU) PPV from Sept 27 onwards, as per instructions from the district education office.
“There is a schedule we have to follow to manage the crowd at the PPV. Right now, secondary school students from Petaling Utama are being vaccinated at MSU,” he said, adding that his school administrators had already informed the parents concerned.
On Wednesday, Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali said schoolgoing teens must wait for their schools to notify them of when and where they are to receive the vaccine.
He urged parents not to rush their children to the PPV as there are enough doses of the Pfizer vaccines to cover the 3.2 million teenagers in Malaysia.
For university students who have not turned 18, Dr Noor Azmi said they could walk into any PPV to get their jabs. A parent, however, has to accompany the student who must show his student card in order to get vaccinated.
He added that boarding school students would be given appointments at the PPV closest to them via the MySejahtera app.
Dr Noor Azmi, chairman of the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force for Adolescents (CITF-A), also said walk-ins for adolescents aged between 12 and 17 are limited to non-schoolgoers and higher education institutions.
In BUTTERWORTH, confusion reigned over Penang’s Covid-19 walk-in immunisations.
Over 200 students aged 16 and 17, accompanied by their parents, were turned away at the PPV at Dewan Tapak Ekspo Seberang Jaya because they had yet to receive their appointment on MySejahtera.
The centre’s healthcare organiser, Dr Jack Wong, said many were confused by “walk-in” messages on social media.
Eventually, only about 100 students with MySejahtera appointments got their jabs yesterday.
Seeing so many parents eager to get their teenaged children vaccinated, Dr Wong said he hopes the government will be flexible and amend its ruling to allow those without MySejahtera appointments to “really walk in”.
“We cater to adults walking in, but vaccination rates for them have slowed down to between 200 and 300 turning up daily,” he added.
He said on Wednesday, only 319 people were vaccinated at the centre, which has the capability to dispense 1,000 doses daily.
Dr Wong said his team felt bad for turning away teenage walk-ins and their clearly frustrated parents.
“With schools reopening soon, we really wish that all students get at least their first dose,” he said.
Dr Wong said if students could walk in with their parents without MySejahtera appointments, vaccination for schools could be completed sooner.
He pointed out that it is no problem to update the vaccination status of walk-ins in the MySejahtera database.
State youth and sports committee chairman Soon Lip Chee, who visited the PPV at Dewan Milenium in Kepala Batas yesterday, said 3,500 students aged 16 and 17 and without comorbidities were vaccinated at six centres in Penang’s five districts.
He said the vaccination of all such students is expected to be completed in a month.
Among the happy teens who got vaccinated at Dewan Milenium yesterday were twins Luah Zheng Yang and Zheng Sheng, 17, and their classmates from SMJK Chung Ling, Butterworth.
Zheng Yang said he hopes their friends will get their vaccines, too.
Older brother Zheng Sheng said though they have become accustomed to studying at home, they are eager for face-to-face learning in the final months leading to their examinations.
Another student, Suhail Bokhori, 17, from Maahad Imam Nawawi, a government-aided religious school in Kepala Batas, felt grateful to be the first among his friends to get the jab.
“I felt happy when I got my appointment via MySejahtera early yesterday morning. I feel protected and am confident about going back to school,” he said.
In Penang, student vaccinations are being conducted at Setia SPICE Convention Centre, Tapak Ekspo Seberang Jaya, Vangohh Eminent Hotel, Dewan Perda Convention Centre, Dewan Milenium and Sungai Bakap Multipurpose Hall.
On Sept 11, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said about 130,000 teenagers in Penang had been identified as eligible for the vaccination.