JERANTUT: Carrying heavy loads, travelling along tortuous roads and river crossings may be fun for 4WD enthusiasts but for pharmacists Gan Siew Pei and Hadiatul Ain Hasanuddin, it was a journey they had to go through to ensure an Orang Asli community received their Covid-19 shots.
They said it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, having to go down to the ground with workers of the Jerantut district health office and the Department of Orang Asli Development.
Gan, 26, said she and Hadiatul Ain, 29, were tasked with preparing and ensuring the vaccine doses were always in good condition before being taken to the vaccination centre at Kampung Orang Asli Sungai Kucing, Ulu Tembeling, here.
“The challenge started when we had to travel over a road pitted with potholes and strewn with puddles for an hour.
“Then we crossed a river by boat for about 10 minutes, and then, weighed down by a special vaccine-filled container, which has to stay at a temperature of between 2°C and 8°C, we trekked up a small hill.
“Hadiatul and I both had to carry the special container filled with an ice pack and Sinovac vaccine doses because it weighed almost 20kg,” she told Bernama yesterday.
The second of three siblings said preparations started last Friday.
She said the supply of vaccines was picked up at the Tanjung Lalang health clinic in Temerloh and transported to the Kuala Sat rural clinic here to be stored first before they were taken to the vaccination location yesterday.
The Pahang-born, who said she was earlier doubtful about the Orang Asli community’s reception to the vaccine, was eventually relieved when most of the villagers easily understood the briefing given on the side effects of the injection.
Hadiatul Ain said the challenge she went through was tiring but worth it because “not everybody could enjoy such an experience, more so when visiting an Orang Asli settlement via land and water”.
“Prior to this, our routine was only giving medication to patients at the clinic. This time it was a departure from our actual duties.
“We assisted the nurses and doctors in making preparations to provide vaccine injections whereby 150 doses were given to the residents in this village.
“Gan and I played our role at the last station by explaining the side effects and giving them the appointment date for the second dose,” said Hadiatul Ain, who has worked as a pharmacist for the past five years.
The role of health workers from among the Orang Asli also helped in vaccinating the community.
Among them was health treatment assistant Bahari Kalang, who persuaded those Orang Asli who refused to be vaccinated and assisted in the registration when the vaccination process started.
“One or two did not want to be vaccinated. They refused even after the Tok Batin (village headman) talked to them.
“So, I met them and carefully and clearly explained the benefits of vaccination. Eventually they relented,” said Bahari, who has been a health worker for 20 years.
If the Jerantut journey was tough, a group of health workers in Sabah had it harder, travelling 70km on 4WD vehicles over mountainous areas to ensure residents in remote Sonsogon got their Covid-19 vaccination.
The trip took about three hours, but for the team of doctors, nurses and non-governmental organisation representatives, it was no obstacle as a sense of duty and strong determination to get the people of Sonsogon vaccinated came first.
The three-day programme kicked off yesterday, to ensure every eligible resident in the five subdistricts in the Sonsogan area get their Covid-19 shots. Kampung Sungai Magandai was their first stop.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Sabah and Sarawak Affairs) Maximus Ongkili said some 300 residents in the area had been identified as vaccine recipients for the first phase of the Kota Marudu vaccination outreach programme.
“There are 700 residents from eight villages in total in this mountainous region, and 300 of them have been targeted to receive the vaccine,” he said when launching the programme yesterday.
To date, some 15,265 people in Kota Marudu have registered for the vaccination programme via MySejahtera, with 6,018 of them having received the first dose while another 1,949 have been fully vaccinated.
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