GEORGE TOWN, Sept 8 ― The first day that the Penang government started its walk-in Covid-19 vaccination for Malaysians saw hundreds of non-citizens turning up instead.
At the Pesta site in Sungai Nibong ― one of the selected Covid-19 vaccination centre (PPV) on the island ― crowds could be seen forming as early as 7am today.
The Pesta PPV coordinator E. Kalimuthu estimated over 100 foreign workers came in the morning, hoping to receive the vaccine even though it was not their turn yet.
“We have to turn them away as the walk-in session is only for Malaysians and we only prepare 500 doses per day for walk-ins,” he said.
Kalimuthu said some of the foreigners could have just been trying their luck, but others could have turned up at the Pesta PPV due to some miscommunication.
As at 11am, roughly 300 Malaysians turned up for their Covid-19 shots at Pesta PPV.
Siti Nurhidayah Zakaria, 29, was among the Malaysians waiting for her turn to receive her first dose.
She related that she registered over a month ago but had yet to get an appointment, which was why she decided to opt for the walk-in programme.
“My husband works in a factory and he already has two full doses so when we found out about this walk-in, I came at exactly 10am to register here,” Siti said.
Another Malaysian with a similar tale was 68-year-old R. Muni, who came to the Pesta PPV accompanied by her son, S. Vino.
Vino related that his mother was registered for vaccination through the MySejahtera app by his sister as her dependent, but had not received an appointment date.
“We were told about this walk-in session yesterday so I brought her here to get vaccinated instead of waiting for the appointment,” Vino said.
The 29-year-old added that he had received his first dose of the vaccine yesterday.
Both Vino and Muni said they were unaware that senior citizens in Penang did not have to make an appointment on the app but could walk in to any PPV in the state to be vaccinated prior to today.
Over at another walk-in PPV in Relau, a crowd numbering nearly 500 people gathered at the Spice Convention Centre in Relau before 11am.
Among them was a 21-year-old who gave her name only as Michelle, who drove all the way from Tanjung Bungah in the north.
However, she was turned away after it was found that she is allergic to the vaccine. This wasn’t the first time, Michelle said.
“I was given an appointment in August but when I went there, based on my medical records, they had to cancel my appointment due to my allergies,” she said.
Penang has designated 10 places as walk-in PPVs for Malaysians above 18-years-old.
The PPVs are Spice Convention Centre, Pesta Site Sungai Nibong, Balik Pulau Sports Complex, Perda Convention Centre, Dewan Millennium, SP Arena, Tapak Ekspo Seberang Jaya, Vangohh Eminent, Dewan Sungai Bakap and Dewan Serbaguna Jawi.
Walk-in sessions start at 10am daily and will be based on a first-come-first-served basis as up to only 500 doses are prepared per day for each PPV for walk-in individuals.
According to Kalimuthu, the amount of doses for each PPV and on different days will vary depending on supplies from the health ministry.