Wheelchair-bound octogenarian granny braves river to get vaccinated

By Ahmad Syabil Sultan Noordin Ahmad

KUCHING: If an 82-year-old, wheelchair-bound granny could brave the river by boat to get vaccinated, what is your excuse then?

Realising the importance of Covid-19 vaccine to protect oneself and others around her, granny Najah Ahmad, despite being wheelchair-bound, took the 10-minute boat ride along the Sungai Sibu estuary to get to the vaccine administering centre (PPV) at the Kampung Telaga Air Health Clinic, about 40 km from here.

“I took the vaccine to protect my health and that of my family and members of the public. I am grateful that I have been vaccinated today,” said Najah who appeared calm while receiving the first dose of Sinovac vaccine.

Fondly called ‘‘nenek’ (grandma), Najah was among 14 residents of Kampung Sibu Laut in the Kuching coastal area, who waited for the boat in the early morning at the village jetty, to be brought to the Kampung Telaga Air PPV.

The village head, Senep Yassin, 53, said although the river is the only access from the village to the PPV, it did not prevent them from getting vaccinated as they realised its significance.

“Despite the villagers facing some challenges like Najah who is very old and wheelchair-bound, as well as needed to be carried to get into the boat, I still urged them to fulfil their responsibility (of getting vaccinated). We cannot miss it,” he said.

At the moment, 60 out of 120 people living in the Malay traditional village, which has been around since 1820, have received their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine.

Besides Kampung Sibu Laut, the other 15 villages in the Pantai Damai state constituency are also placed under the Kampung Telaga Air PPV, with 360 to 400 vaccine doses provided weekly by the Kuching Division Health Department.

Telaga Air village head, Zaini Tenggek, 55, said the PPV there started operating on June 15 and as of now, over 500 people from 16 villages had received their first vaccine dose.

“Undoubtedly the amount of vaccine received is not enough, but we appreciate the initiative of Pantai Damai assemblyman (Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Junaidi) to open a PPV in the village to facilitate vaccination, with the villagers not having to make a long trip to other PPV in Kuching city,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Abdul Rahman who also visited the Kampung Telaga Air PPV, said there were another two PPV in his constituency, namely, at the Kampung Buntal and Santubong Health Clinics, besides the temporary PPV in Darul Hana.

He said 24,000 people were eligible for vaccination in the constituency, and based on his estimation, almost 10,000 residents there had received their first dose.

This figure, according to Abdul Rahman, included nearly 3,300 at the three PPV mentioned, 800 people at the Darul Hana temporary PPV and those vaccinated at other PPV such as Perpaduan Stadium and Petra Jaya Health Clinic.

He described the vaccination progress in his constituency as a good sign of the government’s effort to achieve herd immunity in Sarawak. – Bernama