WITH barely a few days left before the first batch of Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine arrives in Malaysia this Sunday, the public have mixed reactions and differing views over Putrajaya’s initiative to vaccinate 80 percent of the country’s population for free of charge.
As announced by the Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, the first phase of National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme, which will begin from February to April this year, is meant for the 500,000 frontliners in the country while the second phase, from April to August, is meant for the high-risk group or senior citizens, who are vulnerable to diseases.
The third phase, which is meant for those aged 18 and above, will begin from May to February next year.
As the vaccination programme is set to be rolled out next week to curb the spread of Covid-19 pandemic, Buletin Mutiara spoke to some members of the public for their feedback.
Imran Hilmy Tawfik Hilmy (43, journalist)
“I’m extremely relieved and excited at the same time when I heard that the vaccine will be here soon. This will be a remarkable day for our nation when we get the supply of vaccines under strict monitoring.
“The standard operating procedures (SOPs) that we adhere now are important to break the chain of infection. However, vaccination is important to create a herd immunity as advised by the health authorities.
“On the same note, I feel that journalists, being part of the frontliners, should be prioritised as well. We should be among the first batch to be vaccinated as we are on the ground most of the time.
“Anyway, I hope the vaccination process will be carried out smoothly for the sake of everyone’s safety.”
Yeoh Kee Chai (37, auditor)
“I understand that the vaccination is important for all of us and I am aware that other countries have already started their vaccination process.
“However, I’m in a dilemma over this vaccination programme. I’m still in doubt whether to volunteer myself for vaccination. At least, I hope the authorities can give us assurance whether we will be safe after that.
“For instance, I have aging parents to take care of and I’m the only son. The authorities should draft out a compensation plan should anything arise.”
K. Kalimuthu (46, storekeeper)
“As of now, I’m still undecided whether to receive the jabs. I need to study whether there will be any side effects.
“The government should come out with an awareness campaign to educate the people for us to have faith in the vaccination procedures.”
Syarmila Rastam (34, civil servant)
“As a broadcast journalist myself, I believe the media organisation should play a vital role in publishing enough information on the efficacy and safety as well as the side effects of the Covid-19 vaccines.
“There should also be a clear explanation of why the side effects happen, who are the high-risk groups and what are the chances of a side effect. All this should be presented through various media platforms in order to allay public fears.
“Because nowadays, there is a lot of incorrect information about the vaccine that cause fear and panic among the society and this is why the media should play its role more aggressively and effectively to convince the public.
“After all, we should know that all vaccines and medicines might have some side effects, including Covid-19 vaccines. This is normal and not something new and it should be addressed to the public.”
Nur Azwina Shah Bodin (28, customer service executive)
“From my personal point of view, I think more needs to be done by the Federal Government to educate the public about Covid-19 vaccines.
“I suggest the government should come up with some sort of vaccination awareness campaign and through the campaign, the government should explain how the vaccines actually work.”
Brian Chen (30, engineer)
“As for me, I am ready to be vaccinated any time because I believe it is safe or else the Health Ministry would not allow the vaccine to be brought in the country.
“As far as I know, a vaccine can only enter the country after the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) approves it and NPRA has verified that it is safe to use. So, there is nothing to be scared about.”
Muhyiddin will be the first to receive the vaccine alongside frontliners on Feb 26, the first day of the implementation of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme.
Story by Edmund Lee & Riadz Akmal
Pix by Darwina Mohd Daud & Noor Siti Nabilah Noorazis