To jab or not to jab?

If we have large segments of the population that say, “Oh I’m not gonna get vaccinated now,” we very well could see on-going transmission that would make it more challenging to get back to that new normal.

– Dr Michael Osterholm, American epidemiologist

The flickering of the light at the end of the tunnel can now be seen.

The Covid-19 pandemic has been spreading worldwide unchecked until now. We have all been praying for a vaccine or cure to be found as soon as possible.

Globally 113,815,816 confirmed infections have been reported and 2,526,080 deaths as of March 1, 2021. These are unfortunate figures that many never expected.

Despite MCOs, CMCO, EMCOs, RMCOs and SOPs we in Malaysia have been subjected to wave after wave of resurging clusters.

This has not been for lack of effort on the government’s part. Fortunately, we had all the various SOPs and movement control orders, as otherwise, the negative impact would have been even worse.

There were many observations that vaccines would take many years to develop as has happened with past vaccines.

However, due to determined efforts, investments, availability of the latest technology and knowledge, the Covid-19 vaccine is here in record time. Kudos to all the people involved.

However, now that we have it here, some people have started questioning its safety.

Much of this concern is about harmful side effects and it is mostly from unconfirmed sources and speculative social media postings.

I even joked that we should try it on politicians first, well half-joked!

Finally, the first shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine arrived in Sarawak on February 24.

Lo and behold two days later Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, stepped forward and ‘walked the talk’.

He was the first person in Sarawak to receive the vaccine and kicked off the Covid-19 Sarawak government vaccination drive. He led by example.

There has been much scepticism and fear related to the vaccination.

However, after seeing the chief minister taking the first dose of the vaccination, it seems many have changed their minds and are now in fact asking when their turn will be.

There are of course some who mentioned to me that they would prefer to wait and see what happens to others.

I suppose they view the first few batches of vaccinated persons as guinea pigs.

Our health authorities and leaders have gone out of their way to convince people of the safety of the vaccine and not believe the false information dished out on social media.

The intensive efforts to vaccinate all eligible people in Sarawak are an effort to build up herd immunity.

According to Minister of Local Government and Housing Datuk Seri Professor Dr Sim Kui Hian, success will very much depend on the acceptance of the public. 

He stated in his social media accounts “given that 72 percent of Sarawakian are above 18 years old, in order to achieve herd immunity of minimum 70 percent, we need 99 percent of Sarawakian above 18 years old to be vaccinated”. 

Therefore, it is important that you register for the vaccination programme being rolled out across Sarawak.

A word of caution, do not let your guard down after being vaccinated. It is important to note that the vaccine does not provide 100 percent protection from the Covid-19 virus.

So do not rush out to give each other high fives and go back to pre-pandemic behaviour. Some of the current SOPs might be in place for quite some time.

There are many variants of the Covid-19 virus and this possibly means it will likely be around for a very long time.

Some medical professionals are stating that people might require regular booster shots to fight the various and new variants of the virus.

It is also estimated by some studies that it will take about four and a half years to cover 75 percent of the population worldwide with a two-dose vaccine.

I am sure you have to admit that since the outbreak of the Covid-19 here, the Sarawak Government has gone out of its way make sure that all persons in Sarawak receive the necessary medical support and care.

Our chief minister has on numerous occasions stated that lives once lost cannot be brought back. It is a strong indication that to him ‘all lives matter’.

He has placed great emphasis on a strong adherence to SOPs by the public and their enforcement by the relevant authorities.

The Sarawak government has carried out its responsibilities well and we have to play our part by getting vaccinated and following the SOPs.

Syabas to those who have registered for the jab.

Those who have not registered do step forward and register, as you will be making Sarawak a safer place for all.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the New Sarawak Tribune.