At first glance, a new hashtag on the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine appears innocent enough.
But #CucukMyAZ, which has been trending since the voluntary programme began on May 5, has been garnering laughs and raising eyebrows alike as it makes its way through the digital world.
Twitter user Rin, who coined it, said the hashtag was created “to make it easy for people to search for info on the Malaysian rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine”.
“No huge thought went into it,” she said in a series of tweets explaining its origin. “My first thought was just MYAZ but I was worried that would be too generic.
“Then I thought of SuntikAZMY but that didn’t cut it either. Then came CucukAZMY, which still didn’t sound right, so it got flipped to #CucukMYAZ.”
The hashtag has been going viral ever since as more and more users in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor share their experience of receiving the AstraZeneca jab, and is even being used by the health ministry in its official social media posts.
It was also singled out by Dr Jemilah Mahmood, the prime minister’s special adviser on public health, who asked who had created it in a post accompanied by a line of laughing/crying emoji.
Rin said she never expected the hashtag to make such a big splash.
“At most I thought 10 mutuals would use it,” she said. “But today, #CucukMYAZ got used so much it was a trending hashtag and even got used by some media outlets/people and KKM.
“I thought that was cool because anything that promotes vaccine confidence is great,” she added.
Vaccine confidence in the AstraZeneca jab, especially, has been a question mark in the country as the second phase of the national immunisation programme continues for senior citizens and those in the high-risk group.
The AstraZeneca vaccine was originally meant to be part of the mainstream programme but was made a separate, opt-in affair following public anxiety over small numbers of recipients in other countries who had developed blood clots after receiving the jab, some of whom later died.
Khairy Jamaluddin, the minister in charge of the vaccination programme, said 8,000 people who had initially registered for vaccination through the MySejahtera app had cancelled their registrations after the government’s announcement that the AstraZeneca jab would be included in the portfolio of vaccines.
He said the majority of these re-registered once the vaccine was made optional.
Rin voiced hope that the use of the #CucukMyAZ hashtag could help support efforts to reach herd immunity. She also said she was grateful that people were using it to describe their vaccination experience.
“#CucukMYAZ showed that the AstraZeneca option can give us a chance at reaching herd immunity faster.
“It showed that many people want to get vaccinated and that people who are on the fence can change their minds if we just show them that it’s not scary.
“I’m very glad that today went well for those who got #CucukMYAZ, and I’m grateful to those who took the time to document their journey for others to see,” she said.
“I hope that when the slots open up for other states the reactions will be just as positive.”