KUCHING, Mar 16: A Sarawak MP has called on the government to vaccinate all rural communities in one go instead of using the current three-phase approach of the national Covid-19 immunisation programme.
Dr Kelvin Yii of DAP, who is MP for Bandar Kuching, said apart from various logistical problems, most rural villagers do not have internet access or the MySejahtera application, which made it difficult for them to be registered or traced.
“Some of those living in remote areas risk being left out especially when it comes to the second dose, which is administered 21 days later,” he said.
Under the national immunisation programme, frontliners are the first to be vaccinated, followed by the over-65s and those with serious illnesses, and then the general public.
Yii, who tested positive for Covid-19 last year, was responding to state local government and housing minister Dr Sim Kui Hian’s recent announcement that the federal government had agreed in principle to allow Sarawak to vaccinate villagers residing in the interior in one go, irrespective of their categories, due to logistical issues.
“I support the decision. The authorities must act fast to vaccinate rural communities to protect them from new and more infectious strains,” he said.
“Healthcare facilities and services don’t have the capacity if there are too many severely symptomatic patients.”
Yii said efforts to educate and raise awareness among rural folk should make use of local languages and dialects to boost villagers’ confidence in the vaccination programme.
“I am aware that a number of people in rural areas are hesitant to be vaccinated. We need to use their native language and engage the longhouse chiefs and village heads, to make sure they understand the benefits of the vaccine,” he said.