COVID-19 vaccines: More efforts are needed to address concerns among elderly people

THE Selangor COVID-19 Task Force (SCTF) has discovered that 90% of senior citizens in the state had not registered to be vaccinated under the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme.

Therefore, the programme’s coordinating minister Khairy Jamaluddin’s recent announcement that the face-to-face registration for the COVID-19 vaccination has been launched in rural areas – especially in places with limited internet access and communities without digital gadgets – is a welcomed move.

Under the community outreach programme, which is jointly coordinated by the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) and Malaysia Civil Defence Force (APM), teams were moving from house to house in the interior to undertake manual registration.

But while the switch in strategies is a good move to ensure that nobody is left behind in the effort to vaccinate 80% of the Malaysian population by February 2022, there is still much to be done, particularly to convince Malaysians – not just the elderly but those in other age groups as well – as to why the vaccine is important.

The SCTF has attributed the low uptake to a lack of knowledge about digital registration channels, internet constraints and the lack of access to applications such as MySejahtera, according to a report by Harian Metro.

But somehow, there is more than meets the eye.

Old folks, in particular, remain unconvinced about the vaccine for many reasons and chief among them being the age factor. More specifically, their advanced age already meant that they have one foot in the grave, and to these people, it wouldn’t make much difference whether they get vaccinated or not.

Meanwhile, others, especially those who have prior ailments and are currently taking certain medications to treat their ailments, are concerned that the vaccines would be harmful to them. Therefore, they would prefer to adopt a wait-and-see attitude.

The main question now is, how will the Government persuade these people to take the COVID-19 vaccine?

After all, everybody has their own opinion about the vaccine. However, until their fears and concerns are assuaged, no amount of care centres or attempts at face-to-face registrations are going to get them to come forward to voluntarily register for the COVID-19 vaccination. – March 24, 2021

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