Sunday, May 22

Herd immunity: Vaccinations needed for all aged 18 and above in Sarawak

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Dr Sim (bottom right) speaks during the webinar.

KUCHING: Almost everyone aged 18 and above in Sarawak will need to be vaccinated in order for the state to achieve herd immunity against Covid-19, said Local Government and Housing Minister Dato Sri Prof Dr Sim Kui Hian.

He explained that those aged below 18 make up 30 per cent of Sarawak’s population.

“If we don’t vaccinate 70 per cent (of the population) then we don’t get enough herd
immunity or protection for the community.

“Sarawak has about 30 per cent of people less than 18 years old. If you take that into consideration, that means almost 100 per cent of people above 18 years old need to get vaccinated,” he explained yesterday during the ‘Covid-19 Vaccination and The Impact on Sarawak Business’ webinar organised by the Sarawak Business Federation (SBF).

Dr Sim, who is also Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) advisor, noted the pandemic has been going on for nearly a year in the state since the first cases were diagnosed in March last year.
He cautioned that Sarawak is currently at the most dangerous period, with more than 6,000 diagnosed positive in the first two months and more people dying than during the whole of last year.

“If we can survive, stay alive, and get vaccinated by August, we can prevent more deaths. Let us put more effort into getting vaccinated. Let us organise ourselves and get vaccinations going and get 70 per cent of the population vaccinated.

“Only then we can talk about going back to our normal lives,” he said.

Dr Sim said the state is about to roll out one of its biggest operations — to vaccinate 2.2 million people in Sarawak by August — an ambitious programme that will be launched by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg tomorrow (Friday).

“Those 2.2 million people need to be vaccinated twice, that means vaccinating 4.4 million times.
“That is a lot of work.

“Which is why we need people’s understanding. We need to make sure people accept it. We need 100 per cent to play their part,” he said.

Moderated by SBF deputy president Datuk Philip Ting, the other panelists were Sarawak Bumiputera Entrepreneur Chambers chairman Datu Abang Helmi Ikhwan, Economic Planning Unit Sarawak director Prof Dr Muhammad Abdullah Zaidel, Sarawak Tourism Federation president Audrey Wan Ullok, and Borneo Medical Centre chairman Dr John Chew.

Among the issues discussed were how businesses such as tourism would continue in Sarawak after everyone has been vaccinated, the various aid programmes for the business sector, and other possible solutions to get the economy going again.