Vaccinate for better protection

“Thank You! We have received your submission.

Posters outside the Persada International
Convention Centre in Johor Baru

You will be informed of your appointment confirmation in 48 hours via MySejahtera or SMS upon verification of your details. You may also check your appointment confirmation at:

For any enquiries, please call Tel 1800-888-828, Opening Hours 7am to 11pm Monday to Saturday; Sunday Closed.”

This was the acknowledgement I received after I submitted my online application for the Astra Zeneca vaccination appointment.

It was a stormy day when my friend, Wei Leng, called during lunch with an anxious question about the online application which opened for submission at 12 noon.

Mum received her first dose May 3

She was very keen to receive her vaccination and had been trying to log-in from 12 noon but as she failed to make any progress after numerous attempts, she called me out of desperation.

After her battle with cancer seven years ago, Wei Leng recently consulted her oncologist who gave the greenlight for her to receive the Covid19 vaccination when it was offered.

So I paused from eating my lunch to explain the step-by-step procedure to her but because she was using her handphone for the submission, it was a challenge to talk her through the process while we were talking on that same phone.

So she hung up and phoned me again using another telephone so that I could guide her to make the submission on her handphone.

Prior to this, my brother and sister-in-law had urged my eldest sister and I to apply for the Astra Zeneca vaccination when it was offered but we hesitated to do so simply because at that point, our focus was on managing our mother who had just received her second dose of Pfizer vaccine.

Mum received her second dose May 24

We were then keeping a close watch on mum and helping her to cope with the side effects plus her old age ailments – a double dose of physical problems – while we anticipated her new symptoms with each passing day.

While we were busy managing mum and her ailments, we did not think about ourselves yet. And when the option for AZ vaccination was available, we were in no hurry to register our submissions.

The call from Wei Leng that afternoon shifted the gears and accelerated our position from being complacent about ourselves to helping her to register and while we were on the line, to also register ourselves.

While I rushed to finish my lunch to head over to my desk and switch on the laptop, I told Wei Leng to read the form on her handphone and send me her personal details as required on that form.

A wide tent was set up across the road in front
of the Persada International Convention Centre

It was a matter of moments for me to open to the website and completed the form with my own details up to the point which requested for a preferred date for the appointment.

My sister picked a date – well pass the two weeks after mum received her second dose of vaccination – so that we could feel more confident that her physical ailments should by then be reduced, as she grew stronger day-by-day.

I had received the personal details from Wei Leng and she was thrilled when I successfully submitted the registration on her behalf.

My sister and I also submitted our registrations successfully and we picked the same day for our appointments so that we could go together.

After this first step, we waited patiently to receive that important phone message to confirm our appointments.

Observing physical distance at the entrance

When more than 48 hours had passed and there was still not phone message for confirmation, we comforted ourselves by reasoning that they might be overwhelmed by the response and needed more time to reply to all the applications.

It was late night while I was comfortably in bed when I received a WhatsApp message from Wei Leng who asked me to check on MySejahtera quickly because she just discovered that her appointment has been confirmed.

A quick check showed that my sister and I had also received similar messages to confirm our appointments for our requested date, with a time difference of just half an hour.

It was uncanny that both Wei Leng and I had our appointments scheduled at the very same time, 10.30am, so we could comfortably go to the vaccination together.

This confirmation message started an exciting countdown to our vaccination date.

Scanning for my temperature
at the lobby

Meanwhile there were updates from family members and friends who had completed similar appointments and we learnt plenty from their various experiences.

In Johor Baru, the AZ vaccination centre was arranged in the heart of the city at the Persada International Convention Centre.

Then we read news updates about the successful dry-run ahead of the first day when the centre commenced operations along with advice about car parking facilities at nearby malls and that complimentary transport was available from there to the vaccination centre.

A few days after the centre started operations, we took a drive to the city to recce the parking facilities nearby and had a closer look at what was happening outside the centre, just to be prepared when we headed over for our appointment.

I reassured Wei Leng that by the time our date rolled around, any operational hiccups at the centre should by then, be ironed out and our experience would simply be smooth sailing.

Volunteers were on hand to help with
completing the Consent form

Even while the morning for our vaccination appointment dawned grey and gloomy, it did not dampen our enthusiasm to head out for our scheduled appointment.

It was drizzling when we picked Wei Leng so we were each sheltered by an umbrella for a short walk to the vaccination centre from the open carpark next to the Galleria Kotaraya mall.

Vehicles that offered complimentary rides to the centre were parked outside the mall and when a driver offered us a ride, we politely declined because we preferred a brisk walk rather than that short ride.

In the distance, we saw wide tents set in place for drivers to drop-off and pick up passengers as well a corridor cordoned off for people with appointments to enter.

After the mandatory MySejahtera scanning process, we were waved on to walk the path towards the main entrance of the Persada International Convention Centre.

At the desk for consultation with the doctor

To facilitate a smoother flow of people, we had our handphones opened to the MySejahtera app and our Identity Cards ready for verification.

Lines and boxes were labelled on the ground for each arrival to keep their physical distance so we inched our way into the lobby where we stopped for the temperature scan.

The volunteers stationed here must have overheard our chit-chat in English because they gave us the English version of the Consent forms with our Ticket Queue numbers and directed us to proceed into the main hall.

We were immediately ushered to rows of chairs and volunteers greeted us in Malay as they approached to help us with completing the forms.

Heading into the cubicle for our vaccination

I had my own pen ready to fill in the form but when a young lady volunteer offered to help me, I agreed and passed her my Identity Card.

We both sat down and as I was storing my long umbrella safely under the chair, I suddenly heard her utter in surprise, “English?”

I could not hide my amusement because it seemed that she did not expect to see an English version form. I asked if she could manage, to which she replied, “Yes” and proceeded to complete the form.

With our forms completed, the volunteers checked our Queue Numbers before we were ushered to the next station for the doctor’s consultation.

Scanning the QR code provided

They were probably familiar with the family groups who arrived together for vaccination so I told them that we were “sisters” and we were immediately invited to meet the doctor together.

While the doctor could read our names on the Identity Cards to confirm that my sister and I were in fact sisters, she spent more time consulting with “the other sister” Wei Leng, who brought along her prescribed medication to show the doctor.

Armed with our forms and Queue Numbers, we moved to the next station where the volunteers ushered us into the same cubicle to receive our jabs.

My sister wore a sleeveless blouse while Wei Leng and I deliberately chose tops with loose-fitting short sleeves that we could conveniently roll up.

Finally to the Observation section

The doctor and nurse worked efficiently to confirm our respective identities and requested us to scan a QR code provided while they quickly pasted a small square green sticker on our tops.

Later I read what was written on this sticker, which was the time we received our jabs.

I saw the prepared syringes that rested on kidney dishes and observed how they maintained a cool demeanor while he announced the name of the dose and smoothly administered each injection on our proffered arms.

I was the last among the three of us to receive the dose and with a cheery wish, we were ushered onward to the Observation station and invited to sit among others in rows of widely spaced chairs.

It was less than 30 minutes since we arrived and we were by then, under observation after receiving our first dose of AZ, and waiting for our Queue Numbers to be called.

At the Observation section

I reminded myself to move my arm instead of leaving it stationery after the jab so as to avoid any stiffness but I was cautious not to raise my arm above my head because it was a sign to the volunteers for the need of aid during this observation.

As the chairs in front of us became vacant, the volunteers asked us to moved forward to those seats and we cooperated each time in a weird game of Musical Chairs, until our Queue Numbers were called.

At the desk, the staff asked a few routine questions and gave instructions to complete the questionnaire in the MySejahtera app for any symptoms or side-effects after 24 hours. And that was it.

A photo memento with my sister

I exited the hall into the foyer to wait a few minutes for the other two and then it was time for photo mementoes of receiving our first dose before we made our way out into the drizzle and a short walk back to the nearby open carpark.

In the excitement of reaching the centre this morning, I neglected to take in the sight of the towering Sultan Ibrahim building, perched on Bukit Timbalan.

So on the return, I made up for it by taking a good look – through the drizzle – to appreciate its majestic grandeur.

Back in the car, we all agreed that we had a pleasant experience and that our much-anticipated vaccination excursion was smoothly completed within the hour.

A friend who had received her AZ first dose a few days ahead, told me that she could hardly sleep after the jab so I was ready to catch up on some light reading and television binge watching.

A photo memento with Wei Leng

She also warned me about the hunger pangs that crept up on her so it was time to head home for lunch and to chill-out with some well-deserved rest and relaxation.

With an increasing number of virus variants being identified, getting vaccinated just gives us an extra layer of protection against this unseen enemy.

It is reassuring to learn from reliable news sources that scientists have found that in the unfortunate event of an infection, the symptoms that occur in vaccinated people will not be as severe or life-threatening.

Now that we have taken the first step for better protection, we are still strictly obeying the set of Standard Operating Procedures, if and when we were out.

So while waiting for the appointment to receive our next dose, we are staying home to help our community to break the chain of infection in this serious battle against the Covid19 virus.

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