FINALLY, the government has heard the loud rants from netizens who have been struggling with glitches and incompetencies from MySejahtera. The decision to set up a physical helpdesk at World Trade Centre Kuala Lumpur (WTCKL) and Shah Alam vaccination centres has been hailed by all. According to a media statement, the set-up will be operating from Feb 19 and only on weekends.
I was elated on hearing this and decided to drive to WTCKL on the first day to have my problem fixed, and not to my surprise, the queue for the helpdesk snaked sluggishly, and I could not even locate the starting point.
I enquired with those in the queue and was told that some of them had been there since 9am, while many even came before that to beat the queue but sadly did not.
I decided to give it a miss, telling myself I will return but looks like time is not on my side. If the government decides to recognise only those with booster as having been fully vaccinated, the crowd at the helpdesk will only swell this week and next. Looking at the queue, it looks like MySejahtera is not much of a help, and I can imagine the frustrations of those who have no avenue for recourse.
The government spent millions on this application but I would give it only a two-star rating. But on the other hand, if you are entering Singapore using the Vaccinated Travel Lane, there are many more applications that you need to download on your handphone. For those without a smartphone, you can rent one from the airport. So, considering that, we are not doing too bad after all.
This pandemic has made many people poorer but certain segments are making big money. For example, the digital tracking facility was outsourced to a single conglomerate, and I can see many general practitioners who have set up separate business entities solely to provide vaccines. Truly, we are living in different times with unique challenges, and everyone is either struggling to make ends meet or laughing all the way to the bank.
Meanwhile, while I was at WTCKL, I saw parents bringing their young children for vaccination, and as they made it through the checks and queues, there was hardly a look of bewilderment, worry or concern on the children’s faces. Naturally, they are too young to know anything but parents know that between the virus and the vaccination, the latter is a calculated risk worth taking.
If everything else fails, we have to rely on science and facts instead of being swayed by rumours and gossip. According to the US Centres for Disease Control and prevention (CDC), the Covid-19 vaccine for children is safe and effective. It has undergone rigorous reviews and has been authorised by the US Food and Drug Administration and recommended by CDC for children between the ages of five and 11 after thorough testing for safety in thousands of children.
According to CDC, Covid-19 vaccines for children ages five through 11 years were developed and tested in the same way as adult Covid-19 vaccines. In clinical trials, the vaccine side-effects were mild and similar to those seen in adults and with other vaccines recommended for children. The most common side-effect was a sore arm.
Then, there is another school of thought that if children were exposed to the disease, they may be able to build natural immunity towards the disease. But the World Health Organisation says no one should try to expose themself or others to Covid-19 on purpose.
Children’s risk to infection is similar to that of adults. When children get Covid, they may run the risk of prolonged post-Covid conditions, hospitalisation, multi-system inflammatory syndrome or death. While the booster vaccination effort is at its peak, so is the effort to get children vaccinated. But there is a small segment of our population who subscribe to this incredulous notion that vaccination is a means through which certain people/organisations are planning to control man’s existence on earth.
Incidentally, my regular airport taxi driver is one who staunchly believes in this. On my recent trip to the airport, he had lots to say for the 45 minutes I was in the taxi with him and I came out feeling momentarily dizzy with confusion. Hence, you can imagine the impact such people may have on innocent minds during this pandemic.
There are anti-vaxxer groups of various kinds and a common denominator uniting these movements is the penchant for viewing the world through the prism of conspiracy theories. But vaccine hesitancy is an urgent problem and a global one.
New variants can emerge wherever populations remain unvaccinated. There are talks that if we had immunised everybody in the world who is over the age of 18 with at least one dose of Covid vaccine, Omicron may not have happened. Then again, the worldwide vaccine distribution is still mired in the rich versus poor controversy.