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Arnold said vaccine registrations among the rural communities in Tawau remained low. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Arnold said vaccine registrations among the rural communities in Tawau remained low. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

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TAWAU, June 8 — Two more vaccination centres (PPVs) will be opened in Balung and Merotai near here soon to enable the rural communities to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

Chairman of Tawau Disaster Operations Command Centre Arnold Joibi said the decision to open the new PPVs was made after taking into account the geographical factors of the vast areas of Tawau and Kalabakan.

“We hope the opening of the PPVs at the Institute of Teachers Education in Balung and at the Datuk Najib Hall in Merotai will increase the rural communities’ access to the vaccine and more will register to get vaccinated,” he told Bernama.

At present, the vaccination for the people in the rural areas was offered at the PPVs at Tawau Community Hall, Tawau Hospital and Tawau Health Clinic, all of which were located here in the city and would need almost three hours for the rural people from Kampung Kalabakan, for example, to reach it.

According to the Covid-19 Vaccine Supply Access Guarantee Special Committee’s website, a total of 162,814 people had been vaccinated in Sabah, which is only 5.55 per cent of the Sabah population, the lowest compared to other states, despite having 29 PPVs statewide.

Arnold said the vaccine registrations among the rural communities in Tawau were still low and only 50,000 registrations out of 441,000 population had been recorded so far, with only 11,000 have been vaccinated.

“We hope village heads, as well as Community Development Leaders, will help register the people for vaccination, especially those in remote areas because this is the only way we can achieve herd immunity,” he said.

Bernama checks found that the absence of a PPV in their areas was one of the factors for the rural communities to adopt the wait-and-see approach to register for vaccination.

A resident in Merotai, Paridah Aco, 57, said the fact that the PPVs were all located so far from home had forced her to think twice, especially after taking into consideration the many restrictions, including transportation issue, she had to face to go to the city.

“It’s not that I don’t want to be vaccinated. It’s just that the PPV is so far away. If there is one that is near, then I will be more than happy to get it. So, I hope the government can consider providing the facility for the rural communities,” she said.

Ramlan Bidung, 49, in Kalabakan, who has also yet to register for vaccination, admitted that he had very little knowledge about the importance of vaccination and that he would have transportation problem to go to the city.

“I’m aware that there is an ongoing vaccination programme, but I don’t really know the importance of the vaccine. We don’t even talk about vaccine here, it’s also too far to travel to Tawau for vaccination. We’ll just wait and see,” he said.

The people in the remote areas should be given more information and exposure about the Covid vaccine and a PPV should also be open in Kakabakan to ensure smooth implementation of the vaccination programme, he added. — Bernama

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