Don’t disrupt government’s plans for herd immunity to be achieved by year-end


HALF of my family members, eight of us, have received at least the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, and we are forever grateful to the government-of-the-day for that.

As my four other family members are below 30 years old, I believe they will be getting theirs soon. Furthermore, we are living in Selangor, the state with the highest number of daily cases.

Just days ago, the government made it public that under Op Surge Capacity, every adult resident in the Klang Valley will receive their first dose of the two-shot Covid-19 vaccination by August 1.

Khairy Jamaluddin, the coordinating minister of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme, said 3.5 million out of 6.1 million adults in both Kuala Lumpur and Selangor had received their first doses. I believe mine will be jabbed soon. What a relief!

My only hope is that both the Opposition-led state governments will not purposely delay all the good attempts and plans by the Perikatan Nasional-led government for this country to achieve herd immunity before year end so that we all can move towards post-pandemic days albeit in the new norm.

Selangor has been seeing the highest number of daily cases since the past few months.

And mentioning about Opposition-led state governments, I am really sad that my nephew and his family (wife and four small kids) still refused to register under the MySejahtera app for vaccination.

Despite daily doses of ramblings and scolding from his mother, who is my eldest sister and a Health Ministry pensioner, and father, also a pensioner, both husband (a professional) and wife (a high-flier at a local university) seem to have joined those anti-vaxxers, so very believing in counteracting conspiracies and vaccine hesitancy.

I thought they had repented when his sister, a medical doctor, imparted her piece of mind about the importance of getting vaccinated but unfortunately, this stubborn couple is still at it.

I really hope that the government will make it compulsory for each and every Malaysian adult to be vaccinated, or face the music.

These anti-vaxxers must not be given any choice as they only pose a health liability to society, maybe not now, but in the future, who knows. Under this difficult, tough situation, we just cannot take things for granted.

As the pandemic pushes people to extremes and psychological states peak, there is bound to be skepticism and questioning of the government’s strategies and plans to fight the pandemic. Throw into the mix the fact that we have been stuck indoors, turning to social media, and it is no wonder that misinformation has been spreading like wildfire.

Of course, all this requires mighty efforts by the “voice of authority” or the government to extinguish the flames.

An overabundance of information and the rapid spread of misleading or fabricated news, images and videos are not helping but making those relevant issues relating to vaccination, more indigestible to anti-vaxxers.

With the ramping up of vaccination nationwide, addressing vaccine hesitancy has become crucial. There is no doubt that the government has done its best all this while in battling this invincible enemy, but what is it going to do with these anti-vaxxers?

This group, to me, can never and will not resonate to the truth of vaccination messages or campaigns, let alone the government’s plans or strategies. To me, they are more anti-establishment than anything else.

Their refusals, no doubt, will only pose a hurdle to the government’s plans to bring us to post-pandemic days. They simply refuse to find and accept the real purpose of vaccination. Trust is primarily the root of hesitancy but of course, a one-size-fits-all message is insufficient.

So, how to inspire vaccine confidence?

The government has done everything it could under the sky to protect and save the public through endless aid packages and measures.

Of course, they can choose not to vaccinate but don’t you dare to campaign against vaccination. That warning came from Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba who said, “You don’t want the vaccine, never mind, but you don’t campaign for other people not to take the vaccine. If you don’t want, it’s okay but don’t let other people get influenced by you.

"I will use Act 342 (Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act) on those who campaign against vaccination.”

The government’s objective is clear – it wants to vaccinate people, to protect them.

I remember reading an article by a foreign wire headlined “Malaysia’s anti-vaxxers make U-turn after brush with virus” early this year. One Kenneth Kong was quoted as saying that he used to believe that medicine and vaccinations were part of an attempt by big pharmaceutical companies to scam the public of their money.

“I am ashamed to admit that I was that person (anti-vaxxer). I was fortunate enough to recover from the virus, but my friend died just days after he tested positive,” said the 37-year-old automotive engineer, adding it took his friend’s death to make him realize that the pandemic wasn’t a joke.

Maybe the valuable experience of former anti-vaxxers who tested positive for Covid-19 could serve as a bridge to the truth for those who are still skeptical. Maybe their testimonies will appeal to their heartstrings. As of yesterday, some 14,347,286 doses have been administered. My earnest hope is for my nephew and his family join the long queues of people registering for that vaccination lifeline.

NABILAH AWANG

Batu Pahat, Johor

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