One down … another to go!

Registration is not necessary. Anybody can be vaccinated by bringing their identity card to record their data in the system. What is the use of MySejahtera? These are all bureaucracies.

– Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, former prime minister

Hurrah! I had my first Covid-19 vaccine dose last Wednesday morning at Normah Medical Specialist Centre.

To my surprise, it was a drive-through service under a covered parking lot area.

I had registered for the vaccination through MySejahtera in early March and had been updating the app every now and then.

On the day of injection, I was excited as well as anxious. Which Covid-19 vaccine would I receive? 

My son drove me to Normah. There were lots of cars parked by the roadside in front of the medical specialist centre. As our car passed through the gate, the security personnel gave us a number and a policeman directed us to the drive-through. 

My son was directed to park his car on the right side while nurses and doctors were already manning desks on the left side of the parking lot area.

We were told not to get out of the car but to wait for the nurses to confirm my registration and verify my identity.

My vaccination appointment was around 10 am and we arrived at around 9.25 am.  Soon afterwards, a medical personnel came to our car with the MySejahtera code for us to scan and to confirm my identity and appointment time. He asked me if I had hypertension, diabetes or high cholesterol. He also wanted to know if I was allergic to any medicine. Then he told me the nurses would move around to vaccinate me.

I received the jab at least 10 minutes earlier than the appointed time. Two nurses came to the car with trolleys; one confirmed my identity again and asked me to sign a consent form before the other swabbed my left arm and gave the vaccine. I had learnt earlier from one of them that I would be receiving China’s Sinovac vaccine.

Half an hour earlier, a friend from Sibu told me via WhatsApp that she had just received Sinovac in Sibu. What a coincidence!

I was expecting the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine from the United States because a few friends in Kuching who were vaccinated earlier had it.

After reading so much about the side effects of some of the vaccines, I was naturally worried about how the vaccination would affect me.

The needle for the jab was fine. The jab was painless but a few minutes after that, I had sore arm.

I was monitored for 15 minutes for any allergic reaction before I was allowed to leave Normah. I was told the date of my second vaccine dose but learnt I would be informed of the exact time through the MySejahtera app.

Two days later, I learnt my second dose appointment would be at Normah early next month.

Reported side effects of Covid19 vaccines include fever, fatigue, headache, muscle pain, chills, diarrhoea and pain at the injection site. Most of them last for two days.

I suffered from most of the side effects except for diarrhoea and they lasted for three days. I woke up with a swollen gum on the second day of the jab and felt sleepy for three continuous days.

My friend from Sibu told me that she had no side effects from the Sinovac jab and that she was up and running, cleaning the house already on the first day.

Another friend in Kuching, who received Sinovac at Normah as well, also had no side effects except for a sore arm.

I consider myself blessed to receive the drive-through service at Normah. I did not know about the special service until I read about it in a local daily later that day.

Besides the drive-through service, the private hospital has also won public praises for introducing an innovative ‘one-chair’ method for Covid-19 vaccine recipients. Under this method, recipients are seated in the same chair for the vaccination and observation process. The nurses will move around to vaccinate the recipients.

“Our process is very fast as people don’t have to wait too long,” said Normah’s Corporate and Business Development deputy head Bidari Mohamad Suhaili.

He said the methods were part of the private hospital’s efforts to help speed up the vaccination programme by reaching as many people as possible.

Although Sarawak is acknowledged as the leading state in terms of administering Covid-19 vaccination, the state is not resting on its laurel.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said last Thursday that Sarawak had so far vaccinated 438,621 people. The figure is 21.47 percent of those who have registered.

The state, he said, was nearly 59 percent short of reaching its herd immunity target of vaccinating 80 percent of the population by August.

The state government was targeting to vaccinate 50,000 people daily to speed up its vaccination programme.

Currently, Sarawak has 71 vaccination centres and 1,405,883 people or 68.82 percent had registered themselves for vaccination. The state has also implemented the ‘jab first, register later’ approach in the rural areas to ensure they are included in the programme.

My friends, have you registered for the jab yet? If you haven’t, what are you waiting for?