Monday, September 27, 2021

Efforts underway to vaccinate Sarawak’s homeless

Over 70% of homeless people in the state had received a first jab as of Aug 20.

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A total of 87 homeless individuals in Sarawak have received a first dose of Sinovac vaccine, according to state Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Fatimah Abdullah.

Speaking at a press conference, she said 17 shots were administered to homeless individuals in Kuching, 28 to those in Sibu and 23 to those in Miri.

“We have identified 121 homeless people across the state,” she said, adding that the programme had been underway since late July.

“As of Aug 20, 72% of homeless people across the state had received a first jab.”

She said seven individuals in Kapit and Sarikei respectively, three in Serian and one each in Samarahan and Betong had also received a first dose of vaccine while efforts are ongoing to administer the second dose.

“Those in Miri have started to receive a second dose because they are housed at a temporary shelter to allow for easier vaccination,” she said.

“The homeless individuals in other places will receive their vaccine shots in the coming weeks.”

Authorities are aiming to administer the first shot of vaccine to those in Bintulu early next month.

“We hope the mobile vaccination programme will also be carried out in Bintulu,” Fatimah added.

She also said that vaccination of the homeless would be done using a doorstep delivery approach.

As homeless people were likely to move about from one place to another, Fatimah said the delivery of vaccines would require the assistance of all relevant government agencies, through a combination of mobile units and mass vaccination centres.

However she added that vaccine shots for the homeless would be limited to locals.

“Providing vaccines for homeless people presents certain challenges. They can be hard to keep track of, or might have more immediate concerns than getting vaccinated.

“However, we will make sure we work together to ensure that everything is done safely,” she said.

“Vaccinating this group is key to achieving herd immunity. The consequences of not getting the vaccine rollout right can spread beyond the homeless population and to entire communities.”

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