Legislators Await MOH Directive Before Launching Covid-19 Booster Vaccination Drives

Machang MP Wan Fayhsal, Ipoh Timor MP Howard Lee, and Seri Delima assemblywoman Syerleena are awaiting federal directives before launching Covid booster vaccination drives. Seberang Jaya assemblyman Dr Afif Bahardin wants Penang state govt’s cooperation.

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 13 – Three federal and state lawmakers from Kelantan, Perak, and Penang say they are awaiting instructions from Putrajaya before launching Covid-19 vaccination drives to improve booster dose uptake in their constituencies.

The three are Machang MP Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal (Bersatu), Ipoh Timor MP Howard Lee Chuan How (DAP), and Seri Delima assemblywoman Syerleena Abdul Rashid (DAP). 

Total population coverage of the first Covid-19 booster dose in both Kelantan and Perak is below the national 49.9 per cent average at 17.7 per cent and 46.7 per cent respectively. 

At 61.3 per cent, Penang’s Booster 1 uptake exceeds the national average and is second highest after the Klang Valley’s 70.3 per cent coverage.

Dr Afif Bahardin, the state assemblyman for Seberang Jaya from Bersatu, has urged the Penang state government to lend cooperation in improving Covid-19 booster vaccination uptake.

Kampung Tunku state assemblywoman Lim Yi Wei from the DAP highlighted the Selangor state government’s booster vaccination initiatives under its state-owned clinics. 

All five politicians told CodeBlue that they have gotten their first Covid-19 booster shot, or third jab. 

Nationwide, only 2.1 per cent of the total population have been inoculated with their second booster dose, or fourth jab. The Klang Valley across Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, and Putrajaya has the highest Booster 2 uptake at 4.5 per cent, as of yesterday.  

Seberang Jaya Rep: People Unsure Where To Get Vaccinated

Dr Afif Bahardin, state assemblyman for Seberang Jaya, Penang. Picture posted on Dr Afif’s Facebook page on December 5, 2022.

Dr Afif believes his constituents in Seberang Jaya are ready to take their booster shots of the Covid-19 vaccine, but they are uncertain as to where they can go to get inoculated.  

“Regarding the time when they were required to take their first and second shots of the boosters, they weren’t any hesitance taking them. They were confident in their choice for making sure their future health is well cared for. 

“For the current situation, due to the latest Covid-19 news from China, I believe the community in Seberang Jaya is ready to take their next shots of vaccines, but they are unaware of the whereabouts and the current locations where they can acquire those shots, considering not many PPVs (vaccination centres) are still open to the public,” wrote Dr Afif in response to questions by CodeBlue

To solve the issue, the Bersatu state representative held that he is planning to work with local clinics and PPVs to ensure that his community has access to the vaccine. 

“I hope the preparation for this wouldn’t take so long and there’s fast cooperation from the state government.”

Dr Afif said he is planning to take his second booster dose “in the nearest future.” 

“I hope people out there will get themselves vaccinated to avoid any worst Covid situations to happen.” 

Seri Delima Rep: Many Enthusiastic To Get Two Booster Shots

Syerleena Abdul Rashid, MP for Bukit Bendera and state assemblywoman for Seri Delima, Penang. Picture posted on Syerleena’s Facebook page on January 5, 2023.

Sitting 10km away from Seberang Jaya is Seri Delima whose residents – according to its state assemblywoman Syerleena from the DAP – are keen on getting both Covid-19 booster jabs.

“There were a few residents of Seri Delima who raised concerns about the vaccines and the subsequent booster shots, but it seemed to go away as more people were getting vaccinated.

“There were only two cases where they were not interested to go for a second booster shot. Others were very enthusiastic about getting their booster shots (first and second),” wrote Syerleena in her response to questions by CodeBlue

When asked if she would hold vaccination drives to increase booster uptake, the Seri Delima state assemblywoman, who is also newly elected Bukit Bendera MP, said this would depend on present resources and machinery in both the private and public sectors. 

“Let’s wait to see what KKM (Ministry of Health) will announce and more so what sort of changes/ revisions will be made by the new health minister.”

In Penang, about 61 per cent of residents have been inoculated with their first booster, or third vaccine dose, exceeding the national average of about 50 per cent. But second booster uptake in Penang is at 1.6 per cent, below the national 2.1 per cent rate.

Nationwide, first and second booster vaccination rates have been climbing since late last month.

Machang MP: Fresh Vaccination Drive Depends On Putrajaya Directive

Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal, MP for Machang, Kelantan. Picture posted on Wan Ahmad Fayhsal’s Facebook page on December 20, 2022.

With the national average of people completing their primary doses of the vaccine standing at 84.3 per cent, the state that falls significantly below that average is Kelantan — with a mere 63.6 per cent of its residents completing their primary vaccination. It is the state with the lowest vaccination rates in the country. 

Only 17.7 per cent of Kelantan’s total population have taken their first booster dose, and just 0.2 per cent their second booster jab.

In an interview with Machang MP Wan Ahmad Fayhsal, he stated that he intends to get a clear picture of the ground first before organising vaccination drives should they prove necessary.

“I will go down to the ground, I will work closely with our state assemblymen, I have three state assemblymen in Machang, to really get the details from their penghulu (village chief) because they know the ground better than all of us,” Wan Ahmad Fayhsal told CodeBlue. 

“Once I get the big picture, only then I can perhaps work closely with the Machang health department to plan for a vaccination drive — if there is a need or requirement from the federal government to do so,” added the Bersatu Youth chief.

Wan Ahmad Fayhsal said that he intends to hold this discussion “within a week’s time”. 

Ipoh Timor MP: Mobile PPV Available If Needed

Pasir Pinji assemblyman Howard Lee Chuan How provides vaccination-on-arrival privileges for senior citizens under the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme in Pasir Pinji, Ipoh Timor, Perak. Picture courtesy of Howard Lee Chuan How.

In Perak, Ipoh Timor MP Lee stated that during the 2021 Pinji Kinta Vax on Wheels initiative — the first mobile vaccination centre in the state of Perak — he had seen many cases of vaccine-reluctant people who were trypanophobic (people who have an extreme fear of needles) or who bought into vaccine horror stories. 

Lee, who is a member of the DAP’s central executive committee, has taken three Covid-19 vaccine doses; all are Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine.

“There is no denial that there are inevitably — any pharmaceutical products would have — casualties from any pharmaceutical roll out, no less for one of such magnitude and reach. Though some of the claims of vaccine-related deaths are also the stuff of urban legend at best, and downright ill intended fabrications at worst. 

“During our vaccination drive in Kinta Pinji mobile PPV, we facilitated many cases of reluctant vaccinees. Those who are trypanophobic or have simply bought into the fearmongering vaccine horror stories of instant blood clots, genetic mutations and even racial population control conspiracy theories. 

“Our position was always that it is the vaccinee and their families’ responsibility to register and offer oneself to be vaccinated, not for us to convince or advocate. But one very commonly seen and effective tactic was the refusal of access to grandchildren unless vaccinated,” wrote Lee, who was formerly Pasir Pinji assemblyman before he was elected Ipoh Timor MP in the 15th general election, in a response to CodeBlue

When it came to the implementation of vaccine drives in his constituency, the DAP lawmaker held that he had implemented the KINTA Pinji programme in his constituency at the time because “the demand was urgent and overwhelming, and that supply was scarce due to limited capacity and lacking in the then government’s political will.”

“I am certain the current KKM, minister and ministry would have no problem in making Pinji Kinta mobile PPV a government initiative when the need arises and is not met.”

Kampung Tunku Rep: Selangor Residents Can Get Booster Shots At Selcare Clinics

Lim Yi Wei, state assemblywoman for Kampung Tunku, Selangor. Picture posted on Lim’s Facebook page on December 20, 2022.

In Selangor, Kampung Tunku state assemblywoman Lim from the DAP stated that a small group of residents in her constituency has expressed some reluctance when it comes to taking the Covid-19 vaccine. 

“A lot of education and correcting misinformation still needs to be done to counter anti-vaxxers,” Lim told CodeBlue.

When it came to conducting vaccination drives in her constituency, she held that the Selangor state government has encouraged residents to get their booster shots and that the status quo is to be maintained. 

“For the first and second vaccine shots, our office ran vaccine drives under the Selangor State Government Selvax programme, which was held in July 2021 at Tropicana Gardens Mall,” Lim said. 

“For booster shots, we directed residents to get their doses at the Selcare clinics. No major issues have been reported, so we would encourage residents to continue visiting the Selcare clinics. Under the Iltizam Sihat Selangor programme (formerly known as Peduli Sihat), residents who have successfully registered can visit GPs to use their ISS funding quota to obtain booster shots. 

“Enthusiasm/ reception to booster dose is a bit lower compared to the first and second vaccine shots, maybe because of the perception that Covid-19 severity has reduced.” 

According to the KKMNow website, daily confirmed Covid-19 cases have begun plateauing since January 1, hovering at 460 cases on a seven-day average last January 11. Hospital admissions, ventilated Covid-19 patients, and Covid-19 patients in intensive care have been declining since early last month.

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