Taking a Boat to Get Vaccinated in Bawang Assan

SIBU: At sunrise, Sim Jiunn Tie, 26, and several longhouse residents in Linjai, Batang Lassa have already gathered at the jetty to board a boat.

Dressed simply just like the other villagers and bringing along some food and drinks, they left at 7 am, travelling downstream along Batang Lassa before entering Batang Lebaan for the Bawang Assan Community Hall, 34 kilometres from Sibu town.

They undertook the journey by boat for about one hour to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at the Bawang Assan vaccine administering centre, which is actually the community hall.

“We use a boat as there is no road to enable us to come here,” he told Bernama after receiving the first dose of the Sinovac vaccine at the PPV today.

He said there were already many people from other longhouses waiting for their turn when they arrived because they had left as early as 5 am, also by boat.

Some of the longhouses involved are connected by oil palm plantation roads which are only passable by using four-wheel-drive vehicles, owned only by a few of the rural folk. 

Administering of the COVID-19 vaccine by the Ministry of Health (MOH) via the mobile COVID-19 Vaccination Outreach Team in the rural areas of Sibu is regarded as the best way to help the people achieve immunisation.

“It is very good for us who don’t have a road or vehicle, indeed it is difficult for us to go down to Sibu town which can take two hours by boat,” said Sim.

By noon at  the PPV, he was one of over 230 vaccine recipients from 11 longhouses in the Bawang Assan area.

According to the PPV Bawang Assan coordinator, assistant medical officer David Japang, a total 1,345 residents near the PPV had received their jabs since last Saturday.

The vaccine recipients comprised residents of 37 longhouses in Bawang Assan who were registered manually by the longhouse chiefs and the lists were then submitted to the Sibu Resident Office.

“Those listed were asked to be present according to the fixed schedules. We jab them first and register them later,” he said, adding that the target of the PPV was to vaccinate 500 people daily.

He said there were also those not listed but turned up in the evening as ‘walk-in’ recipients of the injection but their number was low.

David said the PPV would be at Bawang Assan until tomorrow before moving to Durin, about 40 km from here, to vaccinate residents in the area.

He urged residents in Bawang Assan who have yet to be vaccinated to present themselves at the PPV tomorrow.