JANUARY 12 — “Is it true Khairy (Jamaluddin) faked his vaccination?” That was not the question I was expecting from a friend this week.
My friend is not a conspiracy theorist by nature so I was caught off-guard.
Was it something being shared in her family WhatsApp, I asked.
She told me that someone she knew had asked her to reconsider taking her vaccine booster jab and had shown her supposed “proof” that our health minister was not vaccinated.
My friend is still taking her jab and had planned to, anyhow, but had just asked me to verify what the person had told her.
It’s a free service I offer to family, friends and social media buddies — vetting and verifying rumours or news but mostly because I got so tired of yelling at them whenever they posted something from a dodgy source.
Right now though I feel like yelling at whoever is in charge of the vaccine rollout because, again, those who have no smartphones (thus cannot use MySejahtera) and the disabled are being left hanging.
After the fanfare of the supposed special PPVs for the disabled, why is there no information on how they should proceed?
While it seems that senior citizens are being called up earlier, what guarantee is there that the disabled will also get access to the priority queue?
MySejahtera itself is not disabled-friendly. Its flaw is that it assumes that the disabled can just be registered as dependents on family members’ apps.
What about those without family? What about those who cannot afford or even navigate smartphones?
Why is this rollout still not being communicated well and why are the Communications and Health Ministries still not co-operating to help the vaccination effort?
One of the biggest mistakes made during the pandemic was not communicating the likelihood of side-effects and assuaging the fears of the vaccine hesitant.
I am sure that not all of those who are wary of the jab are anti-vaxxers.
They just do not know where to get the information they need nor do they understand all the overcomplicated news they get from too many sources.
I really feel I should send the health ministry an invoice after having to explain the booster process to so many people, all because they had no central point of reference.
One social media expert hired by the ministry was sharing information in her own capacity but it made me question that person’s hiring — why use your own account?
A social media hire is not supposed to be the point of reference for vaccine information — the Health Ministry’s website and social media are supposed to play that role.
If the health ministry needed to create a microsite and another twitter account for that purpose, why not?
At least it would be more official and it would be easier to persuade people to refer to them as trusted sources.
The lack of professionalism, transparency and proper communication is not just a problem with the health ministry — those failings seem to be endemic in Malaysia.
Now we also have to deal with clinics selling fake vaccine certificates and the absence of proper standards as well as a roadmap for school reopenings.
Apparently our strategy seems to be “cross our fingers the kids don’t get sick”, which I do not find reassuring at all.
The first order of business is really to get someone unifying our Covid messaging instead of relying on weekly press conferences to get the news.
Get, and update, a proper website. Make it accessible to all. For those who cannot or do not surf the internet make it easier to find out all they need to know about Covid and vaccines.
Most importantly help the ones who will need help — the most vulnerable among us.
It is high time the government bears more of the load because there’s only so much Kita Jaga Kita can do.
It’s great Malaysians are looking out for each other but it’s a damn shame that we have no other choice.
* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.