From registrations to free transport and accompaniment to vaccine appointments — Malaysians reach out to seniors and underprivileged

People wait to receive their Covid-19 vaccines at the Covid-19 vaccination centre in the Mines International Exhibition and Convention Centre, Seri Kembangan, June 17, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
People wait to receive their Covid-19 vaccines at the Covid-19 vaccination centre in the Mines International Exhibition and Convention Centre, Seri Kembangan, June 17, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

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KUALA LUMPUR, June 21 – The national Covid-19 vaccination programme rolled out by the government since March this year has so far seen over 5 million people vaccinated or merely 12 per cent of the population.

Focused on the goal of achieving herd immunity and in the spirit of looking out for each other, Malaysians are volunteering to assist senior citizens and the underprivileged with their vaccine registrations and appointments.

Yellow House Kuala Lumpur decided to open up Covid-19 vaccine registration counters for the elderly after learning of the low statistics of people registering for it on the news. — Picture courtesy of Yellow House KL
Yellow House Kuala Lumpur decided to open up Covid-19 vaccine registration counters for the elderly after learning of the low statistics of people registering for it on the news. — Picture courtesy of Yellow House KL

Yellow House Kuala Lumpur

Local community organisation Yellow House Kuala Lumpur has been actively helping with rebuilding lives of the marginalised community since 2011.

They halted their community outreach programmes since the first movement control order (MCO), and since they couldn’t continue with their usual projects with the homeless community, Yellow House KL has been providing underprivileged families with essential groceries while teaching about farming for self-consumption. 

According to their founder Shyam Priah Marimuthu, they decided to open Covid-19 vaccine registration counters for the elderly on March 6 this year after learning of the low statistics of people registering for the Covid-19 vaccines on the news.

“At first, the response was not as we expected, not many turned up. Then we realised that senior citizens, some of them don’t have smartphones.

“And those who do, they didn’t understand how to download and update the MySejahtera application. 

“They don’t know how to navigate through the app itself,” Shyam told Malay Mail, saying some even complained about the small fonts on the app.

Taking note of the difficulties faced during registration, Shyam and her team of volunteers prepared pamphlets on how to register along with information on the Covid-19 vaccination and passed it around the community in Kampung Ampang Campuran.

As a result, more turned up during the second registration.

Shyam thought that they needed a wider reach, so they contacted the Lembah Jaya’s assemblyman Haniza Mohamed Talha who agreed to spread the message and offered to put up tents for Yellow House KL to do their registration drive.

They managed to register over 100 people and the numbers have been increasing by opening up counters at the Spectrum Shopping Mall in Ampang.

Some of the elderly chaperoned to the Covid-19 vaccination centre by Yellow House KL. — Picture courtesy of Yellow House KL
Some of the elderly chaperoned to the Covid-19 vaccination centre by Yellow House KL. — Picture courtesy of Yellow House KL

Yellow House KL also mobilised volunteers to drive and accompany the senior citizens for their vaccination appointments.

“It’s just a matter of seeing it through. We’ve registered them, we’ve checked the appointment dates for them so why not go a bit further by providing transport for them,” said Shyam.

“We picked them up from their homes and chaperoned them to the vaccination centre. Because some of them are scared.

“Having someone beside them through the process gives them comfort and plus if they go by themselves, they still need to figure out where to go and to register and all that.  

“So our volunteers will help explain the vaccination process to them,” she said, adding that they managed to gather 61 volunteers just a day after posting it on social media.

Yellow House KL has helped register 608 senior citizens with 162 vaccinated while 31 senior citizens have used their transport services to get to the vaccination centre.

They are also looking to register more people by working together with residents associations and other non-governmental organisations. 

Those interested in contributing to Yellow House KL can do so by banking in to their CIMB account 8009360571 under Pertubuhan Kebajikan Masyarakat Yellow House.

The Dapur Jalanan Kuala Lumpur (DJKL) team of volunteers. — Picture courtesy of Dapur Jalanan Kuala Lumpur.
The Dapur Jalanan Kuala Lumpur (DJKL) team of volunteers. — Picture courtesy of Dapur Jalanan Kuala Lumpur.

Dapur Jalanan Kuala Lumpur

Soup kitchen Dapur Jalanan Kuala Lumpur (DJKL)’s vaccine registration counters have been in operation since March 14, focusing on the urban poor community in KL.

This is not their first experience, having opened up registration counters for the marginalised community in Kaunter Rakyat to help the then government’s Bantuan Prihatin Rakyat and Bantuan Prihatin Nasional rollouts.

According to Kaunter Rakyat’s coordinator Nurul Fitrah Marican, those registered for vaccines through DJKL are amongst the regular patrons of the soup kitchen itself which operates every Sunday.

“You can see the trend where at first it took some time to convince them as some of them are scared because of all the things they read or heard, while some really don’t know about it at all.

“However, some are well read, they even know what brand of vaccines that they want, it’s a mix of people basically.”

She said that there have been more people coming in to register since the recent MCO as most of them were convinced through the word of mouth from previous DJKL patrons.

People from nearby areas also choose to register for their vaccines through Kaunter Rakyat.

DJKL's first Kaunter Rakyat on Covid-19 vaccine registration. — Picture courtesy of Dapur Jalanan Kuala Lumpur.
DJKL's first Kaunter Rakyat on Covid-19 vaccine registration. — Picture courtesy of Dapur Jalanan Kuala Lumpur.

From the lack of smartphones and internet access to navigating them through the MySejahtera app, there were constant challenges faced by DJKL to aid their clients’ registration.

“For those who registered by themselves, we still need to guide them on how to use the MySejahtera app and keep reminding them to check it every day for updates.

“It’s also hard for some of them who even though have smartphones but it’s the low-end ones, it would take some time for them as they had to go through updates and reinstallations of the app,” said Fitrah.

She also pointed out that even after getting them to register, locating them to inform them of their appointment dates and venues is another hurdle.

“Once we know that this person is going for their vaccination, we need to make sure we can find them because some of them don’t have phones, so we need to meet them in person to relay their vaccination dates and venue.

“It’s hard to keep track but we do have our own record of them, photos and their details to ease finding them.”

DJKL also provides the community with transportation and accompanies them on vaccination day to locations that are not reachable by public transport.

Since opening their Kaunter Rakyat for vaccine registration, DJKL have registered 99 people with 20 of them have confirmed appointments and five of them have been vaccinated.

“I think for this community, they need a different approach like the Mobile Vaccination Unit approach, that’s a good approach where they move straight to the community and have them vaccinated.

“Instead of having a centralised vaccination area, it’s also important to have a decentralised vaccination centre so that people can just go and get their vaccine.

“It would also be helpful for this group of people if the registration and vaccination can be done together in one session,” Fitrah added. 

DJKL is also looking for volunteers to help drive and accompany the elderly for their vaccination appointments, for those interested, please click here

GoVax Heroes has provided free rides to over 300 senior citizens and persons with disability (PWD) since May 25. — Picture courtesy of GoCar Malaysia.
GoVax Heroes has provided free rides to over 300 senior citizens and persons with disability (PWD) since May 25. — Picture courtesy of GoCar Malaysia.

GoCar’s GoVax Heroes

Car-sharing platform GoCar Malaysia is also providing free shuttle services for senior citizens aged 60 years and above as well as persons with disability (PWD) to their designated vaccination centres in the Petaling district.

The GoVax Heroes is part of their corporate social responsibility programme in collaboration with Kampung Tunku assemblyman, Lim Yi Wei since May 25.

Since its implementation, GoVax Heroes has provided free rides to and from vaccination centres to over 300 senior citizens and PWD by GoCar’s volunteering employees.

The free shuttle service currently covers Sunway Pyramid Convention Centre, Hospital Shah Alam, Klinik Rakan Medik Petaling Jaya, University Malaysia Medical Centre (UMMC) and Ideal Convention Centre Shah Alam (IDCC).

A volunteer driver for GoVax Heroes and the senior citizens who booked their ride to go for vaccination. — Picture courtesy of GoCar Malaysia.
A volunteer driver for GoVax Heroes and the senior citizens who booked their ride to go for vaccination. — Picture courtesy of GoCar Malaysia.

The car-sharing platform is looking for volunteers to join in their GoVax Heroes programme during the weekends.

Volunteers will be provided with a vehicle while also having their petrol and parking fees covered by GoCar.

Interested individuals must be between the ages of 18 to 50 years old with a valid Malaysian driver’s licence and can apply to volunteer here

The GoVax Heroes shuttle service will go on until August 31.

Those interested in the shuttle service can book for their ride through GoCar’s mobile application or through their hotline, 1 300-30-2633. 

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