IPOH, Aug 26 — The Perak government needs to urgently address shortcomings in the state’s Covid-19 vaccination programme as well as public anxieties as the war to curb the viral disease is far from over, Manjoi assemblyman Datuk Asmuni Awi said today.
Among the weaknesses was informing those who had registered for vaccination in time so they could plan their trips to the vaccination centres, which were often located in a different district.
“Among the weaknesses were people receiving the appointment just a day before the vaccination date, people sent to vaccination centres located in other districts,” Asmuni said in the Perak state assembly.
Asmuni said that he had received complaints from Ipoh residents that they were late because they were given vaccination appointments in districts like Kampar and Batu Gajah.
“This will cause a lot of problems for the people, especially the senior citizens who depend on their children for transportation. They could not make the arrangement to go to the vaccination centres,” he explained.
The Opposition lawmaker also highlighted hesitation among residents to register for vaccination, claiming that the figure stood at between 24 and 25 per cent of the population.
According to Asmuni, those who are anti-vaccine have been actively campaigning to dissuade others by using religion as an excuse.
“This group of people raises doubt and suspicion to the people on the effectiveness of the vaccine. This commonly happens in the Malay community, where they come up with various theories on vaccines.
“What is more saddening, this group of people is using religion to promote anti-vaccine. They use the mosques and surau to send their message on anti-vaccine which raises doubts to the public,” he said.
Another group that compounds the problem is one that propagates the belief that those who die from Covid-19 will be martyrs.
“If they want to die alone due to Covid-19 it’s okay, but the problem is it will affect others like their family, neighbours and people surrounding them.
“Plus, if it creates a cluster, then the place will be placed under lockdown, which will affect the daily life of the people around,” he said.
Asmuni urged the government to ramp up counter-measures against the anti-vaccine advocates
“We don’t know whether this group of people is from the anti-vaccine group, or they don’t have information on the vaccine registration, or they don’t know how to register, or maybe they might not be bothered about the vaccines,” he said.
Asmuni urged state health executive councillor Mohd Akmal Kamarudin to take a more proactive approach to ramp up the vaccination drive.
“He has to often go to the places where there are lockdowns and vaccination centres to check its progress and situation.
“So far I haven’t seen any statements from the health exco on what are steps taken by the government to expedite the vaccination in the state,” he said.
Akmal was not scheduled to speak in the Perak Assembly today. His turn to debate the royal address is only next Monday.