Recently, we heard that many new admissions into Covid hospitals were those who had received two doses of Sinovac.
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin then informed us we should get the Pfizer booster dose as soon as possible. This is especially for those who have had the Sinovac vaccine from China because its effectiveness apparently wanes after a few months. He said there were now more Sinovac-vaccinated patients admitted to the Sungai Buloh Hospital.
How frightening is this for those of us who had received Sinovac, especially for those who were not given any choice.
Some questions need answering. Why did the government put so many of us in a quandary now by saying back then that we – the elderly and not-so-elderly – could get the Sinovac vaccination?
Many of us, at some point, read about the different vaccines and their percentages of effectiveness. But nobody from the government really explained what all of this really meant.
Maybe nobody knew, which is doubtful – or maybe they did not expect another wave to come and that a booster would be needed.
And then, having nearly 25 million people vaccinated gave the government the confidence to allow interstate travel and reopen most of the economy.
But once interstate travel, along with everything else, was allowed, new cases would obviously rise. So did this reopening mark the onset of another wave coming through?
Didn’t the Malaysian government, its then health minister and its then innovation minister know back then that the effectiveness of the Sinovac vaccine was low or would wane over time?
If this was known then, why did the government even buy these vaccines? Was there an agreement or quid pro quo with China? Was it because the vaccines were given free by China, which already had Covid under control? Was there a stockpile of vaccines in China to be given away to other countries – and Malaysia was one of the many recipients?
With the rise in hospital cases, especially those who were vaccinated with Sinovac, we are now informed that if people prefer to get the Sinovac booster, they would have to pay for it.
Why? Is it because the government will no longer be getting free Sinovac vaccines from China? As the vaccines must be purchased, are the Malaysian public now expected to reimburse the government or the company responsible?
There might be many of us Sinovac-vaccinated people who are now in a quandary. Do we believe what we have been told by the government and go get the Pfizer booster? Or do we get the Sinovac booster and pay for it? This is not an ideal position to be in.
Added to all this frustration is the process of getting an appointment date for the booster shot using the MySejahtera app. If you are unable to accept the date given, you are told to wait 30 days for another date. If you were able to get the original appointment within 24 hours, why should it take another 30 days for another date?
Then on 23 November, the local media said one could walk into any private vaccination centre to register and get a date for the booster. So I went into the Protect Health website to register myself, only to find that there was no record of any centre around where I reside. I could not find an icon to click for further information. So, another frustrating day! I wish somebody would explain all this to me.
I know these vaccines are not a cure for the virus and they are just to provide some measure of protection. Something like the flu shots?
Surely the ministers concerned and the Ministry of Health will have all the relevant data to make an honest decision for the good of the people and the national healthcare system, wouldn’t you think?
Ultimately, it comes down to the individual’s choice. Pfizer (free) or Sinovac (pay). Good luck, everybody.
Jem, an Aliran reader, still cares deeply about Sabah, despite having lived in the peninsula for some time