Play our part to achieve herd immunity

Covid-19 vaccine must be accessible to all nations and people.   

–  Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Prime Minister

It’s heartening to note that Malaysia’s National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NCIP) has been gaining traction since late February.

So far 29 percent of our adult population have completed both doses of the vaccine. And almost 60 percent of the population have received at least one dose. Not bad considering that this was achieved in less than six months.

In case you are not aware of it, 20,533,660 doses have been administered as of July 31, involving 13.8 million first jabs. And another 6.7 million recipients received both doses.

For the record, Oxford University’s Our World in Data website shows that our daily vaccination rate is higher than the rate recorded in many countries, including the United States. Malaysia’s daily vaccination rate per 100 people reached a high of 1.27 on July 19.       

These figures should shut down naysayers who have had nothing good to say about the government’s NCIP.

Health authorities have set a target of fully vaccinating all adults by October to stem the current surge in new coronavirus cases which have been in the region of 16,000 to more than 17,000 daily in the past one week.

The money set aside for the NCIP is no small amount; Putrajaya has allocated RM5.8 billion. With that sort of money, every one of us should have no problem getting vaccinated.

Which leads to the issue of allegations by some recipients in Malaya who were made to pay to be vaccinated. No joke!

A friend residing in Petaling Jaya claimed that he and his family members were asked to pay RM400 each to get vaccinated. Apparently, he had registered via the MySejahtera mobile app in late March, but until late May he did not receive any vaccination date.

Then someone approached him and offered to arrange for him and his family to be vaccinated — but for a fee of RM400 each. My friend, worried about the spiralling new Covid-19 cases, decided to sign up via the person who, obviously, could be from a syndicate. 

My friend and his family have had both doses, the second one late last month.

Shocking, isn’t it?

Let’s get this point straight. The vaccines are available to everyone at no cost — yes, at no cost! Vaccines are paid for with taxpayers’ money and all Malaysians, including immigrants, are entitled to receive free jabs.

So, if someone approaches and promises you access to a vaccine for a fee, you can bet it is a scam! It’s obviously a syndicate at work.

Our government doesn’t charge you a single sen. All Putrajaya wants is to get the country closer to its goal of attaining herd immunity.

There is no charge if the vaccination centre is at a private hospital or clinic. The vaccination programme at any private healthcare facility is fully paid for by the government.

Looks like there is no end to vaccination controversies.

Recently, we had cases of several incidents at vaccination centres (PPVs) of individuals claiming they were given blank shots. These individuals had recorded themselves receiving the jabs. Several of the video clips went viral on social media. Police reports were also lodged.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba recently said recipients who could provide proof of having been injected with an empty syringe will be given fresh shots.

To avoid hanky-panky at vaccination centres, the authorities now allow picture-taking and recording. This new ruling is certainly a welcome move to allay fears that recipients are getting blank shots.

Health workers at the vaccination centres should also show the filled syringes before injecting. It’s up to individuals to observe carefully and, take a photo or video of the whole process.

Hopefully, these efforts could help address the decline in public confidence in the vaccination programme, and the increased vaccine hesitancy among the people.

For the benefit of vaccine recipients, I will touch a bit on the government’s compensation scheme for vaccine recipients in the unlikely event that they experience severe side effects (provided it can be conclusively proven) from the vaccine.

They are able to claim compensation of up to RM500,000 in case of permanent disability or death, as announced by Dr Adham in March.

An initial fund of RM10 million was set up under the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma).

As for all those who have yet to receive their jabs, let’s play our part to achieve herd immunity and make our country safer for everyone. Let’s be responsible citizens.