Only vaccines will save us

JULY 21 — I thought things were bad enough when Malaysia Chinese were spurning other vaccines for Sinovac, believing it was their only guarantee they could gain hassle-free entry into China.

Now I hear some Malaysian Indians refusing Sinovac in fear that they would not be able to travel to India as they had heard the country did not recognise the China-made vaccine.

Add to that, some of those who had signed up for AstraZeneca jabs decided to cancel in the hopes of getting other vaccines now new stocks have arrived.

I am sorry, Malaysians, but we are not in the US where we can get vaccines at Target departmental stores without needing to download terrible apps or indulge in online warfare to fight for a jab.

Lack of information

As I’d said before, it is ridiculous that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is better at vaccine outreach than our own government.

I wonder if any government officials have quietly asked the country to perhaps stop sabotaging our vaccine programme with its anti-mRNA vaccine propaganda.

If the government was smart, it would let people know that China is now procuring mRNA vaccines as booster shots to its existing vaccines.

This, after the relentless spreading of misinformation that mRNA jabs were less safe and inferior to China’s vaccines, might perhaps get the more stubborn Malaysians to accept whatever they’re offered.

Unfortunately, Malaysians are getting their information about vaccines not from outreach but via WhatsApp groups full of conspiracy theories and unverified news.

I realise that the pandemic makes in-person vaccine campaigning difficult but this is a matter of life and death so why isn’t there more funding or some attempt at creativity?

Too much of the information is online and not as accessible to those without decent internet connections.

People wait to receive their Covid-19 vaccine jab at the mega vaccination centre located at UiTM in Puncak Alam June 7, 2021. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
People wait to receive their Covid-19 vaccine jab at the mega vaccination centre located at UiTM in Puncak Alam June 7, 2021. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

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Have our TV and radio stations died?

I saw a tweet from an American saying that it was a shame that the US could promote cars better than it could vaccines.

You could say the same thing about Malaysia; we can make fancy commercials and relentless promotions for local car launches yet we couldn’t put that effort into vaccine campaigns.

Where are our vaccine commercials? Our ridiculous (probably) but catchy jingles? Where are the posters, radio spots and ambassadors?

Instead it seems the government is too busy sending enforcers after people questioning the transparency of our vaccine procurement and distribution.

There are also plenty of paid cybertroopers trying to counter popular hashtags such as #KerajaanGagal with their own #RakyatGagal.

Malaysians can spot cybertroopers from just one tweet now so hiring them is just a waste of money.

Be your own vaccine hero

I joked that I have now become the Asian Auntie, vaccine edition.

My friends have had to put up with my overbearing questions asking after their appointments, how they feel after jabs, reminding them to check their MySejahtera apps daily.

It’s gotten to the point where I nag people every day on social media and WhatsApp or message friends constantly with vaccine news, directives and other information.

What’s tragic is that I have to do this. Am very blessed my parents are believers in vaccines and had registered for the vaccines without needing any prompting.

Sure, my mother sends me the odd folk cure or viral video on WhatsApp but she still didn’t think twice about getting the jab and my father checked his app daily until he finally got his appointment.

My friends aren’t that lucky. I keep hearing stories about parents stubbornly refusing to take vaccines or even insisting they will take only vaccine A or B.

We do not have the luxury of choice in this pandemic; Malaysians have to be convinced that any vaccine is better than getting Covid-19.

Again it’s #KitaJagaKita all over again. It’s up to us to talk to our families, friends, neighbours and be as relentless in trying to save them as the government is reticent about combating misinformation.

We have to be our own vaccine superheroes because right now there is no way out of this pandemic except through vaccination.

To those still waiting for a vaccination, I hope you get your appointment soon. To those reluctant to register or get jabbed, please reconsider.

To the government, perhaps allocate funds to causes other than policing social media because this is 2021 and Malaysians are too angry to be afraid anymore.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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