New greeting norm amid Covid-19

The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.  

Socrates, Greek philosopher 

Good morning/evening/afternoon… Have you had your Covid-19 vaccine yet?

That’s how we are greeting our friends and people we meet nowadays — at least in Sarawak, where the Covid-19 vaccine rollout is in progress.

When I talked to two women who ran food stalls at a food centre in my neighbourhood, they told me their customers also greeted them that way.

“If I reply that I have received my jab, they will stand near. If I say no, they will stand further,” said one of them.

She also told me that she was thinking of photocopying her Covid-19 vaccination certificate and displaying it at her stall.

I advised not to display her vaccination certificate with her personal details and information but to develop the photo she took at the vaccination centre with the words “Saya telah divaksin (I have been vaccinated).”

My friends, have you had your vaccine yet? All the people I know in Sarawak have received either their first vaccine dose or have completed their second dose.

People in this Land of the Hornbills are indeed very fortunate compared to other Malaysians. The Gabungan Parti Sarawak government is indeed doing its very best to speed up the vaccination rollout and aiming to achieve at least 80 percent herd immunity against the virus by the end of August.

To do that, it aims to administer between 60,000 and 65,000 vaccine jabs daily. By July 4, it had already administered 1.5 million doses.

To speed up the vaccination rollout, the Malaysian Armed Forces’ (MAF) Combat Medic Vaccination Team has been roped in to help vaccinate inhabitants in the interior.

Industrial vaccination centres have also been set up while hundreds of vaccination centres using stadiums, community halls, offices and longhouses have been established. Hundreds of government clinics and hospitals are administering the vaccines as well while private clinics are also helping out.

I am worried about my youngest sister and her daughter in Johor Bharu. They are still waiting for their jabs. My sister registered in February through MySejahtera while my niece did only recently.

Both mother and daughter have complained to the relevant authority manning the MySejahtera app and have been told to wait patiently. None of my sister’s friends have received their jabs yet. All are still waiting.

I was shocked to learn from the headlines in the local newspapers on Friday that the first Covid-19 case involving the highly contagious Delta variant had been reported in Sarawak.

The Institute of Health and Community Medicine, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas), said that the case was detected on June 18 following a genome sequencing analysis on a 56-year-old man from Kuching.

The case was classified as an Import B case, meaning imported from another state.

The institute has also detected positive cases involving the Beta and the Theta variants. The Delta variant was first detected in India, Beta in South Africa and Theta in the Philippines. The Delta variant, thought to have driven the deadly second wave of infections this summer in India, has been reported in 96 countries by July 5.

I would have been even more worried if I had not been vaccinated. I received my second vaccine dose at the Normah Medical Specialist Centre on Wednesday. Like my first dose, it was again a drive-through service under a covered parking lot area.

The service was quick. I received my digital vaccination certificate before I left the medical centre with a small packet with mineral water, some cream crackers and a badge with the words “I got my Covid-19 vaccine”.

After being warned that the side effects from the second vaccine dose could be worse than the first dose for some people, I had turned up for my second dose with mixed feelings.  

But thank God, after the second dose, I only felt sleepy. After sleeping for two hours, I was as good as new.

The government has advised those who have been fully vaccinated to continue observing the standard operating procedures such mask wearing, regular hand washing and social distancing compliance.

This is because doctors have found out a small percentage of people who are fully vaccinated can still get Covid-19.

So, I will continue to wear my face mask and observe all the SOPs until Sarawak achieves its 80 percent immunity against the virus and life returns to normal again.

Until then, my friends, let us all be patient and be SOP compliant.