Being a volunteer at a vaccination centre means a gruelling schedule – 8am until 9pm – and you have to be on your feet for most of that time.
It was an eye-opener, and I hope more Malaysians will give their time – even if it is just for one day.
That was how my home minister and I felt after we finished our stint as volunteers with doc2us – the health care organiser (HCO) in charge of Hall C at the Setia City Convention Centre (SCCC) in Setia Alam, last Saturday.
For the record, doc2us are HCOs at eight centres throughout the Klang Valley, and one in Negeri Sembilan. It has gathered more than 200 healthcare professionals and hundreds of volunteers, mainly from a pool of grounded, or retrenched airline staff.
Some friends tried to talk us out of volunteering. They said it was dangerous as many people would be going in and out of the centre – some of whom could be asymptomatic.
However, coronavirus is everywhere. There is a risk of being exposed in the office, while buying groceries, or even in a lift.
Of course, we were afraid. Who wouldn’t be? Covid-19 is no joke.
But my better half is an experienced volunteer, and her biggest reward was at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur – as that’s how we met!
Unlike the ‘full-time’ volunteers, we ‘part-timers’ had a choice of which days we wanted to help out.
There are several ‘stations’ inside a vaccination centre after a person has gone through the verification process – only those with appointments are allowed inside the halls.
Volunteers usher the public to the registration counters, assign seats to the rooms where they receive the vaccines, stand by outside the rooms, at the entrance, and within the observation hall, the photo booth and exit.
Initially, we were stationed inside the observation hall to guide those vaccinated to their seats.
We had the opportunity to be at different stations while some also helped at the main table, where they handed out the appointment cards.
Among the 1,400 people who received their vaccinations in Hall C (4,200 in total for all three halls), only three felt light-headed or woozy, while one said her arm was numb.
They waited a little longer than usual but did not have to go to a sickbay within the hall.
We helped promote the doc2us website in the MySejahtera application. Those vaccinated could use it to ask doctors questions about the vaccine – it is always better to get answers from a qualified person than via Dr Google.
Some of them were nervous, and as volunteers, we had to keep them calm, ease their worries or chat with them, since most were alone.
There were a few who did not want to hear the explanations or even look at us.
Others lamented about the long wait to get an appointment. Several were perplexed as to why they were sent to Setia Alam, when other centres were closer to their homes in Puchong, Subang Jaya and Petaling Jaya.
Unfortunately, we did not have the answers to those questions.
I, too, am wondering about the process, as my mum and sister, who live with me, were given appointments in Sunway and Shah Alam, while I received mine at SCCC. My Home Minister is still waiting for hers.
Overall, it was a smooth process. Including the 30-minute observation time, nearly everyone spent about 40-plus minutes at SCCC.
Although more than 4,000 people were vaccinated on that day, it never felt crowded or overwhelming.
In our observation hall, which could hold more than 200 people, not once were there more than 40 people waiting.
We also became photographers for those who wanted to pose with the ‘I’ve been vaccinated’ backdrops and placards.
That was the most precarious station as everyone handled the props. As such, we made it a point to sanitise their hands – and ours – before and after snapping their photographs.
You can never be too careful!
The biggest noise came just after 8.20pm when the final person for the day was vaccinated, to raucous applause and cheers as she walked out of the centre.
There was some minor housekeeping to attend to after that.
It was a tiring day, but seeing and hearing the joy and relief of those vaccinated was our reward.
MORE NEW CASES THAN RECOVERIES AS DEATH TOLL SURPASSES 5,000
After three weeks of having more recoveries than new cases, the trend was reversed.
More worryingly, we surpassed 5,000 deaths on Monday.
In the past seven days, we have had 43,290 new infections that brought the total to 765,949.
On the recovery front, 36,799 patients were cured of the coronavirus. That means 694,538, or 90.67 per cent, have been given the all-clear by doctors.
There have been 5,327 deaths from Covid-19, an increase of 524 from last week. That included 107, which we experienced on Tuesday, the first time we hit three figures since June 15 (101).
Worldwide, there are 183.5 million cases, with nearly four million fatalities.
MAKANKONGSI2.0 ANSWERS #BENDERAPUTIH CALL
MakanKongsi2.0 has pledged to its partners to provide food aid to families who raise #BenderaPutih (#WhiteFlag).
It hopes more good people would come on board to join the nationwide food aid programme.
To help spread MakanKongsi2.0 campaign, please follow www.facebook.com/MakanKongsi2.0
If you like to donate to MakanKongsi2.0, you can do so at:
Name: Engage Network
Bank: Public Bank Berhad
Account No.: 3816630332
SWIFT Code: PBBMYKLXXX
Or you can donate with your credit/debit cards or e-wallet: http://bit.ly/Donate2MakanKongsi2
If you are an NGO or an individual helping vulnerable communities, you may apply for assistance at: http://bit.ly/MK2_PartnerApplicationForm
VACCINATED TOURISTS CAN NOW VISIT PHUKET
Thailand may be battling the third wave of infections, but it opened Phuket to vaccinated tourists on Thursday. Malaysia, however, is not on its list of approved countries. Perhaps, due to our high number of new infections.
Not giving anyone any ideas, but I read about this gang in India that wore full protective gear to cremate a man they murdered, pretending he died of Covid-19. Thank goodness they got caught.
SOMETIMES, WE THINK WE ARE SMART
BROWNIES MAKE EVERYTHING BETTER
On Tuesday, Twentytwo13 highlighted content strategist Nadia Mahmud’s effort, who used brownies to get to know her neighbours.
So here is a recipe for the best gooey salted caramel brownies (so they claim!).
FOR MY NEXT TRICK I’LL NEED A VOLUNTEER
Not a song about volunteers, but I have always liked this Warren Zevon hit. Almost as much as I like his Werewolves of London.
Only Zevon could write lyrics like these:
“I can make love disappear,
For my next trick I’ll need a volunteer.”
Until next week, stay safe.