KUCHING: Sarawak is an excellent role model for the other states in Malaysia to follow in achieving the 80 percent herd immunity under the National Covid-19 Vaccination Programme.
Professor Datuk Awang Bulgiba Awang Mahmud pointed this out during an interview on TVS’ Twenty30 programme moderated by senior fellow of the Malaysian Council of Professors (MPN) Dr Jeniri Amir on Monday (June 14).
Bulgiba, who is also the head of the independent committee under the Special Committee of Ensuring Access to Covid-19 Vaccine Supply (JKJAV), said the urgency to achieve the 80 percent herd immunity in Malaysia and in Sarawak was to provide protection for the people and those who had not been vaccinated yet.
He said if the percentage of those who had been vaccinated was low, there would be a higher transmission rate of the virus infections which would make it difficult to control the pandemic in the long run.
“The transmission of the Covid-19 virus is airborne and the faster it spreads, the more people must be vaccinated. This means the remaining 20 percent will be protected by the 80 percent who have been vaccinated.
“It is crucial for the country’s population to give positive responses to the vaccination programme because the government wants us to be free from the pandemic and problems that we have been facing for over a year,” he added.
The epidemiologist and physician based at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya (UM) also stressed the need for the vaccination programme to be conducted aggressively.
He said the country should not only depend on the MySejahtera application for vaccination registration which was considered a passive approach.
“Active registration through the use of existing database and inviting the population to register themselves is also needed.
“Malaysia has 1,100 health clinics nationwide which can be used in the registration and vaccination for the population. We cannot rely on large vaccination centres (PPVs) only.
“The village heads, community leaders and district offices must also be mobilised for this programme, like what is being done in Sarawak.
“This is because many of those in the elderly group are not using the MySejahtera application and still prefer the traditional way,” he said.
On anti-vaxxers and anti-vaccine propaganda, Bulgiba advised the authorities to hold talks with the group members to understand the reasons behind their opposition in vaccination.
“The emergence of this group is not something new. In fact, it has been around for 100 years but in the past 10 to 20 years it is more active. What it preaches is not based on scientific facts.
“If the anti-vaxxers have any concerns regarding vaccination, we can perhaps look at how to assure them and answer the questions they may have. I think there is a need to be more aggressive in addressing this matter because we have yet to be active in the management of the anti-vaxxers,” he said.