BY CLEMENT ERIK WONG & TANIA LAM
KUCHING: The arrival of the first batch of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine here was a historic moment for Sarawak today, signalling the potential beginning of the end of the war with Covid-19.
The batch of 23,400 vaccine doses landed safely at the Kuching International Airport cargo bay at around 6.30pm.
The event was witnessed by Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian, State Secretary Datuk Amar Jaul Samion, State Health Department (JKNS) director Dr Chin Zin Hing, and other representatives.
“On behalf of Sarawak, we want to thank the prime minister and the federal government. Finally, we see the vaccine today.
“I must tell the people of Sarawak that the vaccine has landed in Bumi Kenyalang,” announced Uggah at a press conference after the arrival of the vaccine.
He said the vaccination process with the first batch of vaccine would commence on tomorrow for frontliners in Kuching and Sibu.
For Kuching, he said the first lot of vaccinations would take place at the Petra Jaya Health Clinic.
He added that Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg would be vaccinated on tomorrow. “We want to show to Sarawakians he is the first to take the vaccine.”
At the same time, Uggah assured that SDMC is working closely with JKNS and Resident Offices to ensure the vaccine could reach the people in the interior areas of the state.
“The process is very tedious. It requires a lot of planning, manpower and materials. Our chief minister has approved RM30 million for the logistic arrangement in Sarawak because as you know, the vaccine has to be sent far into the interior,” he said.
“We hope with the experience that SDMC has in managing crises and disasters all this while, it will be able to face these challenges. This is one of the greatest exercises to be undertaken by SDMC,” he said.
Uggah, who is also deputy chief minister, explained that the vaccine would be transported by land using special containers and escorted by the police to their destinations.
He added that the plan was to vaccinate 2.2 million Sarawakians and non-Sarawakians residing in the state.
“We hope we will be able to do it by August. It’s a very ambitious plan. So we are working out how to make sure that this plan can be achieved,” he said, adding that Sarawak’s ability to keep to its vaccination schedule would depend on the arrival of the vaccine.
Uggah hoped Sarawakians would grab the opportunity to be vaccinated and encouraged them to register via MySejahtera or at District Offices.