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By Nur Ashikin Louis
KUCHING, Aug 22: Fourteen homeless individuals in Kuching received their first Covid-19 vaccination dose tonight.
Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah said with the vaccination of this group, the total number of vaccinated homeless individuals in Kuching so far is 31.
“As a result of observations conducted on Aug 18, a total of 12 homeless (people) have been identified to be vaccinated tonight.
“Following that, we arranged a mobile operation tonight where the integrated team conducting the vaccination programme went to the locations of where the identified homeless are staying to perform the inoculation,” she said during the operation near Kuching Waterfront tonight.
Later, the team was able to vaccinate two more homeless individuals, bringing the total number of individuals vaccinated to 14.
The mobile vaccination programme was conducted as part of an integrated operation by the Ministry of Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development (KWKPK) in collaboration with the Kuching Resident’s Office, Divisional Social Welfare Office (PKMB), Sarawak Health Department, local authorities, the police, National Anti-Drug Agency (AADK), Malaysian Immigration Department, Fire and Rescue Department and National Registration Department (JPN).
As of Aug 20, a total of 123 homeless people have been identified and registered for the Homeless Vaccination Operation Programme in Sarawak since July 25.
By division, the number of homeless individuals who have received their vaccinations so far are 31 people in Kuching, 28 in Sibu, 24 in Miri, 18 in Bintulu, 9 in Kapit, 8 in Sarikei, 3 in Serian, and 1 each in Betong and Samarahan.
Additionally, there was a special case involving homeless foreigner who was subsequently handed over to the Malaysian Immigration Department in Miri.
“As of Aug 20, a total of 87 people or 72 per cent of the homeless had been vaccinated with at least the first dose of vaccine while 4 people or 3.4 per cent have completed two doses.
“After Kuching, it will be the turn of Bintulu Division to conduct a vaccination operation for the homeless from Sept 3 to 5,” Fatimah disclosed earlier.
When asked about how the relevant authorities would locate the homeless to administer the second vaccine dose later, Fatimah explained that the authorities have gathered the necessary data on their whereabouts.
“In the case of Miri, we placed the homeless in a temporary homeless detention centre (PPSG) before they are given the first dose (where they will stay) until they completed the second dose.
“The second modus operandi is to bring the homeless people who are able to cooperate to the vaccination centre (PPV) and thirdly, we will vaccinate the homeless on site,” she said.
Fatimah also revealed that among the challenges faced during the vaccination programme was the absence of identification documents and medical records needed to assess their vaccination status.
“Therefore, we can only rely on a trust basis by using the data gathered from conversing with the recipient himself/herself.
“Apart from that, there is a possibility that the single-dose recipient might not come forward for the second dose. However, we have to make do with the two-dose vaccines because single-dose vaccines like CanSino is not available at the moment.
“Other challenges also include the homeless being involved in drug and substance abuse which may affect their health status,” she said.
Also present during the operation were Sarawak Social Welfare Department director Noriah Ahmad and Covid-19 One-Stop Centre commander in-chief Dr Cheong Yaw Liang. — DayakDaily