National Cancer Society needs volunteers for house-to-house Covid-19 vaccination programme

Dr Charlie Tan Jia Hwong is an unassuming gentleman who goes about his work quietly and efficiently.

As project executive at the National Cancer Society of Malaysia (NCSM), Dr Tan is part of the society’s house-to-house Covid-19 vaccination programme, spearheaded by Datuk Dr Saunthari Somasundaram and Dr M. Murallitharan.

NCSM previously had a vaccination centre in Klang.

Since the house-to-house project began in July, NCSM has administered 3,546 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur. It has started a similar programme in Pahang (Bentong and Temerloh).

NCSM, however, needs more volunteers.

“I feel blessed to be part of this programme as there are many people who are unable to go to the vaccination centres,” said Dr Tan.

“By reaching out to this group, we can keep them safe. It is a meaningful experience for me, the patient and the caregivers.

“However, the biggest challenge we face is the lack of human resources. We need more volunteers – doctors and non-medical personnel.

“Those interested in helping can contact us on our website or fill out a form.”

Dr Tan said the house-to-house vaccination programme was not restricted to cancer patients.

“We go to the homes of anyone who is bedridden due to illness, old age or disability,” he said.

The programme is carried out four days a week – Thursdays to Sundays.

Each team of five visits more than 10 houses per day. Some homes have more than one recipient who needs the vaccine.

“We have a volunteer driver as some of the places we visit have no proper parking,” he said.

“Once we reach the house, four of us would go in to check the MySejahtera status, give a short introduction about the vaccine and discuss the possible side effects.

“We will then get either the patient or the caregiver to sign the consent forms, input the data into the laptop and administer the vaccine.

“After waiting for about 15-20 minutes, we will pass the vaccination cards to them and confirm their appointment for the second dose.”

It can be tiring, time-consuming work. Some days, the teams start at 8.30am and finish after 7pm.

But knowing they are keeping Malaysians safe is enough reward for Dr Tan and the National Cancer Society of Malaysia.