By Jailani Hasan
LABUAN: I had mixed feelings upon learning that I would be one of the 10 media representatives on this duty-free island to be vaccinated against COVID-19 along with the healthcare frontliners.
Many questions raced through my mind. I kept asking myself, despite the assurances already given by the authorities, whether the vaccine is halal (permissible) or haram (forbidden).
Then thoughts swirled in my head about the reported side effects. Will I suffer severe side effects? Will I have to take leave and be off work for a while? Will I have to be hospitalised?
I was reassured by the positive thoughts, though. The Prime Minister (Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin) and the director-general of health (Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah) have been vaccinated. They are fine. I should be fine, too.
The big day finally arrived – Saturday Feb 27 – for the launch of the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme at the Labuan level.
I arrived at the vaccination centre – the Membedai Health Clinic – at 8 am, feeling a little nervous. With me, the Bernama Labuan correspondent, was Muqtadir Halim, the Bernama Labuan photographer.
There were also eight other media representatives – six from Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) and two from the Information Department. The 10 of us were the non-healthcare frontliners selected to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on that day.
And, then, it was done. I heaved a huge sigh of relief. I felt confident. I had made the right choice. For me, it was a historic moment. Now, the country is at least one person short of possible transmitters of the disease.
After the vaccination, my left arm felt a bit sore. I also felt a little tired. But, I never had any fever, chills or body aches. I did not have to take any paracetamol.
My fatigue disappeared after I drank a glass of water.
I chose to be vaccinated so that I can feel safe going back to my home and family every day, to be with my children without any apprehension.
Getting vaccinated is important because the vaccine is what the people need to change the course of the coronavirus in the community. But, for now, I will continue to wear a mask, observe physical distancing and wash my hands frequently.
All of us who were vaccinated that day were monitored for 15 minutes for any allergic reaction. We were then informed to come back for the second shot on March 20.
The other media representatives also experienced side effects similar to what I had. Muqtadir said he experienced some soreness at the injection site but it was gone by the next day.
“I chose to get the COVID-19 vaccine because I do not want to risk spreading the virus to family members, friends or my office mates,” he said.
RTM Labuan cameraman Nur Hidayanie Idris said she did not feel any major side effect and added that getting vaccinated protects not just oneself but also one’s family, relatives, friends and the community.
“When you choose to get vaccinated, you’re doing your part to help end a global pandemic. I chose to get vaccinated so that I can keep showing up for my team. I chose to keep myself safe so that I can keep my neighbourhood safe,” she said.
RTM Labuan journalist Mohd Izuandi Jaluddin said he was excited to get vaccinated and that the soreness at the injection site went away by bedtime the next day.
Another person who also got vaccinated on that day is Labuan Corporation deputy chief executive officer Rithuan Ismail, who is also the Labuan Natural Disaster Management Committee chairman.
He said now that he has been vaccinated, he can spend more time with his parents who are old and he misses seeing them on a regular basis.