Hasten Vaccination Drive in Rural Sabah, Sarawak – Maximus Ongkili

KOTA KINABALU: All parties must push harder to overcome various obstacles faced by the COVID-19 vaccination drive especially in the rural areas of Sabah and Sarawak in order  to achieve herd immunity against the pandemic as soon as possible, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Sabah and Sarawak) Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili.

He said in Sabah and Sarawak, the real issue is registration as not many people have access to MySejahtera due to poor Internet connection especially in the rural areas, thus more efforts are needed to drive the programme forward.

The Kota Marudu MP said, he had raised the issue in the Cabinet, because it was pointless encouraging people to register for vaccination especially via Mysejahtera when basic Internet connection was not available.

Ongkili also said both federal and the state governments must manage the people vaccine registration data very carefully to enable everyone to get their vaccine easily and promptly.

“We have to manage the data well so that when their names are up (for vaccination), they will be there and what are procedures to get back to the queue if they miss the appointment…the Cabinet has taken notes on all of this and is working hard so all the people get vaccinated,” he said at  a press conference here today.

Earlier, Ongkili who is also Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) president  officiated the party’s 35th Annual Delegates Congress attended by 640 delegates from 57 divisions held virtually. Also present were Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Dr Joachim Gunsalam who is PBS vice-president and PBS secretary-general Datuk Joniston Bangkuai.

He said PBS will also play a role in the vaccination drive and urged all PBS divisions to carry out registration exercise for the vaccination programme, especially for people in rural areas who have no Internet access.

“So this is where PBS divisions can play their roles by going around to promote the importance of vaccination and how to get themselves registered, by getting in touch with people involved like district officers so we can join them to go to the village and get people registered,” said Ongkili.

He further said he had promoted the vaccination programme under the Malaysia Prihatin programme in Kota Marudu a few months back.

Ongkili said he and the Minister of Agriculture and Food Industries (MAFI) Datuk Seri Dr Ronald Kiandee were made coordinators for the programme, where he is looking after the East Coast and Ronald oversees the West Coast areas.

“However, the programme was suspended when many areas in Sabah turned into red zones. I believe all my MP comrades are doing the same in their respective constituencies,” he said.

According to the Special Committee On COVID-19 Vaccine Supply (JKJAV) website, 282,798 individuals or 10.25 per cent of people in Sabah had been vaccinated, and 438,621 individuals or 21.47 percent of people in Sarawak had received the vaccine.