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The Federal Government must do more to protect the rakyat from the Covid-19 Omicron surge

Media statement by MP for Bandar Kuching, Dr Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen on 8 February 2022:

 

The Federal Government and Ministry of Health should really ramp up their strategic communications to reach out to the unvaccinated and even the un-boosted in order to shorten “the surge period” in view of the current fourth wave of infections due to the highly infectious Omicron variant. 

This includes engaging and encouraging parents to get their children vaccinated including the 5-11 year olds. 

While many reports have said that the severity of the Omicron variant may be milder, but its impact should not be underestimated, and we must not let our guard down and maintain our preparedness for fighting the pandemic.  

 

What is of concern now is that while Delta may be perceived as a “pandemic of the un-vaccinated”, then Omicron could be the “pandemic of the un-boosted”. 

 

Real world data all around the world shows booster Covid-19 shots significantly restore protection against the Omicron variant. Booster shots help prevent serious symptoms, which could lead to reduction of hospitalisation and intensive care unit (ICU) treatment. Data from our Ministry of Health has shown that a wider booster coverage could lead to a reduction in hospitalisation rate as seen here in Sarawak.

That is why a “booster dose campaign” must be launched to exponentially increase our booster dose uptake to ensure the most vulnerable are getting the most optimum protection.

As of February 6, 2022, 52.8 per cent of adults have received their boosters. As shared recently, there are one million senior citizens who are not yet boosted and 3.5 million individuals who were fully vaccinated with Sinovac vaccines have not yet received their boosters. 

Hence the government must also improve their risk communication and allay concerns of those still hesitant to take the vaccine or the booster dose.  

Another important demographic of course is the children and engagements must be done with parents to allay some of their concerns. Such engagements is not just about the volume done, but more importantly it must be continuous, consistent and also widespread. 

A campaign or roadshow can be done in public areas including shopping malls and even in schools. They can set up booths in such areas to answer questions parents may have on vaccination. 

The government can also set up a website with all necessary and updated information as well as FAQs where parents can go and get updated and verified information. 

 
MP for Bandar Kuching, Dr Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen.
 

Another concern is to deal with logistical issues that may be faced by parents to bring their children for vaccination. I hope the government will issue directive for their civil servants and even incentivise the private sector to allow parents to take leave to bring their children for vaccination in designated PPVs and even if needed time off to take care of their children if they develop certain adverse effects. 

The government should also look at doing such vaccinations at schools to address possible logistical issues especially in the rural areas. Vaccines have always been administered among children in schools, and such mechanism can be done for the Covid-19 vaccinations. 

The increase of positive cases is inevitable with Omicron and it will increase in the next few weeks. However, the data and facts clearly shows that vaccination and public health intervention works. 

To shorten this surge period, let us all play our part to get our loved ones vaccinated or boosted, put on a mask, sanitise regulalry and practice safe distance.

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