Now, more than ever, vaccination is vital

ABOUT 18% of the population in Sabah have registered for the Covid-19 vaccine while in Kelantan it is about 32%.

Both states have the lowest percentage of vaccination registrations.

At a time when the number of new Covid-19 cases as well as fatalities is spiralling upwards, it is alarming that the take-up rate for vaccination is this low.

Other parts of the country are doing only slightly better: in Kuala Lumpur, 67% have registered followed by Selangor at 65% and Sarawak at 58%.

Only the federal territory of Putrajaya has achieved 100% registration.

Are people not getting the message? While adhering strictly to the SOP during the next two weeks under the nationwide movement control order will – hopefully – bring the number of cases down, the only permanent way out of this pandemic and back to a semblance of normal life is to be vaccinated.

What’s more, with talk of vaccination “passports’ and countries opening their borders only to those with proof of vaccination, travel would be difficult if you haven’t received the Covid-19 jab.

The MCO was always meant to be a stop-gap measure while waiting for vaccines. Well, the vaccines are here so what are we waiting for?

And why do people who have received a precious vaccination appointment not turn up, in the tens of thousands even?

It was reported that 14,144 people in Johor, 11,000 in Kedah and about 10,000 – mostly aged 60 and above – in Kelantan did not show up for their appointments.

And about 10,000 individuals in Pahang, more than 9,000 in Perak, about 6,200 in Negri Sembilan, almost 4,000 in Melaka and more than 3,000 in Perlis missed their slots.

Among the reasons cited for not turning up were that they were not prepared to receive the jab, were unwell, undergoing quarantine, were out of the area, did not have transport to get to the vaccination centre, and wanted to make a last-minute change of the appointment date.

Some, mostly senior citizens, refused to be vaccinated after having been registered by their children.

The high number of people missing their appointments and the low number of people registering for the vaccine show that more needs to be done to raise awareness of the importance of vaccination.

This is the other side of the vaccination conundrum: The government’s efforts. While it is doing well at getting enough vaccine doses for the country, people are asking for vaccination to be sped up urgently.

So far, 11,788,915 people have registered but only 2,786,152 have been vaccinated.

This has led to people grumbling on social media, saying what’s the point of registering when the vaccination is going so slowly.

The government is certainly aware of the sentiment and is working at changing gears and speeding up the process.

Vaccination “super centres” will be opening beginning tomorrow, and there has been mention of introducing mobile vaccination units.

Additionally, perhaps the authorities could urgently look into using the large number of Klinik Kesihatan and GP clinics the country has nationwide as well as increase the number of private hospitals involved in the vaccination programme to reach as many people as possible.

Malaysia is targeting 80% of the population to be vaccinated by the end of 2021 to achieve herd immunity. That means we have to get more than 26,000,000 people vaccinated. So let’s get going on this so we can end lockdowns permanently.

In the meantime, stay home and stay safe!

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Commentary , Op-Ed , Sunday Star Says , vaccination


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