Let us choose our vaccine

Had a severe reaction to the flu vaccine so I am very concerned that it could happen with the Covid vaccine. – female Pennsylvania health care worker, 55

Three more people in Hong Kong were given the wrong Covid-19 vaccines recently after mixing up their inoculation centres. They involved a 47-year-old woman and two of her family members who booked a Sinovac vaccination at a sports centre but mistakenly went to another sports centre farther away and were injected with BioTech.

Officials since then have pointed out that abundant information on the immunisation, including details of the vaccine types and inoculation centres, is available on the online booking system.

They added the names of the vaccines and inoculation centres were also clearly stated when the people arrived and that recipients had to sign a consent form at the vaccination booths.

“Under this framework, cases of people going to the wrong vaccination centre should not happen without the on-site staff noticing,” said a spokesman.

The Civil Service Bureau, which is responsible for the city’s vaccination programme, has reminded staff to closely verify the booking information of jab recipients and to make clear what type of vaccine a centre is administering to avoid similar mistakes in future.

So, the people in Hong Kong can choose the vaccines they want. Now, when can Malaysians or for that matter, Sarawakians choose their vaccines?

We have been told to register for Covid-19 vaccination through the MySejahtera app.

Phase one of the national vaccination exercise has apparently ended. Until March 29, 580,765 individuals had been injected under the programme.

Coordinating minister of the Covid-19 National Immunisation Programme Khairy Jamaluddin has revealed that phase two which prioritises the elderly, those with morbidity problems and persons with disabilities will commence on April 19 — in about a week’s time.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba on April 4 expressed his dissatisfaction with the slow registration for the vaccination by most Malaysians.

He said the Ministry of Health (MOH) was targeting for 70 to 80 percent Malaysians to register for the immunisation programme to achieve herd immunity. However, so far, only 7.6 million out of 26.7 million had registered through the MySejahtera app.

“I am not satisfied. MOH is not satisfied. MOH will find the reason why they did not register.

“Is the campaign not compelling enough or are they not concerned or want to wait, and see? Some even claim the vaccine is this and that,” said the minister.

A day earlier, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin also touched on the low registration among Malaysians.

He pointed that there was a correlation between rolling off the vaccine and the recovery of Malaysia’s economy. He urged the relevant parties to reach out to all those who had not yet registered for the vaccination by providing further information to help them register through the MySejahtera app.

One way to encourage more Malaysians to register for the vaccination is for the Malaysian government to follow Hong Kong’s example — allow the people to choose the vaccines they prefer.

So far, Malaysians in Malaya have been injected with two types of vaccines — Pfizer-BioNTech from USA and Sinovac from China. In Sarawak, only Pfizer vaccine has been used. On March 28, Minister of Local Government and Housing Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian said the state government’s strategy for the time being was to get as many Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses as possible for the public despite the challenges in storing the vaccine at a temperature of negative 70 degrees Celsius during transportation into the interior of Sarawak.

“We are being advised by the Sarawak Covid-19 Vaccine Advisory Group and if there are other types of vaccine available in June or July, the state government will definitely look into them,” he said.

During his visit to Sarawak early this month, the prime minister assured that more Covid-19 vaccines would be sent to the state. He did not name the types of vaccines.

Malaysia is scheduled to start receiving deliveries of the UK-based AstraZeneca vaccine in May; 6.4 million doses have been procured for the use of 3.2 million people.

Following the European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) findings that unusual blood clots with low blood platelets should be listed as very rare side effects of the vaccine, Khairy was quick to allay public fears about the vaccine.

He said the government had prepared several backup plans if it had to postpone the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

 “We are still looking at the data and whatever the decision on the use of this vaccine, it will be announced later,” he added.

I have registered for the vaccination. Definitely, I don’t want the controversial AstraZeneca vaccine. I hope the government will let me choose the vaccine I want and not gamble with my life. Like all human beings, I live but once.