The special edition Brown Bag Talk on Sarawak Covid-19 vaccination campaign via Zoom received an overwhelming response where 370 participants joined to listen to YBhg. Prof. Datu Dr. Andrew Kiyu Dawie Usop, Professor of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences, University Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) and also the Chairman of the Sarawak Covid-19 Vaccine Advisory Group (SCoVAG) in the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee as well as member of SDI, Dr. Radziah Mohamad, Public Health Specialist, Principal Assistant Director, Family Health Development Section, Sarawak State Health Department and Haji Aziman Mahdi, Principal Assistant Director, Health Promotion Section, Sarawak State Health Department.
Prof. Datu Dr. Andrew in his presentation shared on the goal from the medical perspective on managing the Covid-19 pandemic which are to eliminate the pandemic and to control the transmission so that the healthcare system is not overwhelmed by Covid-19 patients. Professor Datu Dr. Andrew opined that the non-pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs) have not been as effective in the 2021 compared to in 2020 because the virus is currently present all over Sarawak (both in urban and rural areas).
The current rise in cases in Sarawak was due to outbreaks and clusters created by super spreaders (individuals), lack of compliance in SOPs in the workplaces and social events like weddings, birthdays, parties and funerals. In order to reduce the transmission, he urged for everyone to keep practicing the non-pharmaceutical approach such as wearing face masks, to social distance, to always clean and disinfect and to frequently wash hands. There is a need for a combined personal responsibilities and shared responsibilities to combat the pandemic. Vaccine is the new and final barrier in the shared responsibilities in controlling and ending Covid-19 pandemic. He also shared on the latest concern on the side effect of vaccination which is the blood clots issue. However, the issue of getting blood clot due to Covid 19 vaccine is very rare. From the poll questions conducted, majority of the participants were worried about the side effect of the vaccine and they do not know what the side effects are.
Dr. Radziah shared on the Covid 19 vaccination programme for Sarawak. The objectives of the vaccination plan are to protect frontline personnel from the COVID-19 infection, to minimize morbidity and mortality among high-risk group, to create herd immunity for economic recovery and to control the outbreak. Dr. Radziah also shared on the number of eligible populations that will be vaccinated and the targeted vaccination timeline for Sarawak. Among the platforms available to register for the vaccination are My Sejahtera App, JKJAV website www. vaksincovid.gov.my, JKJAV Hotline 1 800 888 828, manual registration via residents’ office, community leaders, YBs and government health clinics/ hospitals. From the poll questions asked, majority of participants have registered for the vaccination via My Sejahtera app and manual registration via residents’ office, community leaders and YBs. Quite a significant number also registered twice both using online systems (MySejahtera App) and manual registration.
Haji Aziman shared on the communication strategy plan in promoting the vaccination campaign in order to improve positive perceptions on COVID-19 vaccine. Among the communication channels used are via television, radio, banner, bunting, flyer, newspapers, social media (FB, IG, Twitter etc) and etc. From the poll question on first source of information regarding the vaccines, majority of the participants picked the Ministry of Health Malaysia’s FB and website and via social media like FB and IG.
During the interactive session, one of the issues was on the efficacy of the vaccines. There are still new development in progress therefore there is still uncertainty whether an annual booster shot will be required. The most important message is to get vaccination in order to control the pandemic from getting worse.