Overwhelming crowds at PPVs for booster jab

Waiting in line: A long queue of people who turned up to get their booster shot at the PPV in Paradigm Mall in Petaling Jaya. — CHAN TAK KONG/The Star

PETALING JAYA: Crowds at several vaccination centres (PPV) in the Klang Valley violated the SOP for physical distancing, as many tried to take advantage of the walk-in process for the Covid-19 booster shot.

Social media platforms were abuzz since yesterday morning with updates and questions on which PPV was crowded or whether a certain make of vaccine was still available for walk-in.

“Almost all the big PPVs were overwhelmed.

“I spent four hours at One City in Puchong after detouring from Subang Parade due to the super-long queue there,” said Facebook user Sharon Seow.

Pictures and videos of long lines at Paradigm Mall were also shared as people queued on the second floor, where the PPV was at, since the mall was opened.

“Waited for more than three hours, not yet my turn. The queue hardly moved,” said Yen Leng.

Irene Lee, who arrived at 10am, said she still had not gotten the registration form after waiting for hours.

Similarly, Derrick Low said he hoped there was a better system to distinguish between walk-in, those with an appointment and senior citizens.

Long queues were also reported at the iHeal Medical Centre in Kuala Lumpur and Subang Parade PPV.

For Izam Jalil, it was a letdown when he learnt in the middle of queueing up that the AstraZeneca vaccine had run out at the iHeal Medical Centre.

“After I confirmed with the staff there, I decided to come earlier the next day,” said Izam.

Clinic nurse Nathaniel Ly said the recent announcement on the shortened gap for the booster shot among AstraZeneca recipients had sparked widespread interest.

“Also, some PPV stated that they only have the AstraZeneca vaccine until Dec 31, hence more people are rushing for it,” he said, adding that people should not be choosy about the booster shot.

When contacted, Paradigm Mall’s management said it was aware of the large crowd and had taken immediate steps to mitigate the situation.

“We created a designated waiting area for those who were in line and chairs were also provided for them.

“We also sent personnel on the ground to remind the crowd to maintain physical distancing while queuing,” it said, adding that it would continue to monitor the situation in the coming days.

It said the vaccination hosted at its premises was conducted by Pusat Perubatan Naluri and the Health Ministry, which were offering both Comirnaty (by Pfizer) and AstraZeneca boosters.

Malaysian Medical Association president Dr Koh Kar Chai said it was “worrying” to see the crowds.

“No doubt, the booster shot is important, but the SOP needs to be in place at all PPV,” he said.

“Otherwise, those going for the jab for increased protection against Covid-19 might end up getting infected instead.

“It needs to be taken seriously as we are now faced with a more transmissible Covid-19 variant.”

He said for those who had the first two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, Comirnaty is the recommended booster, along with AstraZeneca as an alternative.

“As such, there is no need to expose yourself by joining the long queues at these centres.

“Just go to the appointed PPV as given to you by MySejahtera or call up your neighbourhood GPs to see if you can have your booster there,” he added.

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