I Got My COVID-19 Vaccine!

By Mel Sim

Here’s what you need to know about the entire process.

By now you already know that the Malaysian government released an opt-in registration for Malaysians above the age of 18 to sign up for the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine instead of waiting for your turn to be vaccinated under the official vaccination programme.

In four hours, all 268,000 shots were swooped up showing that Malaysians were super eager to get vaccinated and hopefully beat COVID-19 soon!

I was one of the 268,000 who were very fortunate to sign up for a vaccination slot. Logged in around 12:10pm and got my Tahniah! Message around 12:30pm.

Two weeks later, here I am – for my first dose of AZ vaccination at PPV WTC (that’s Pusat Pemberian Vaksin (PPV) World Trade Centre (WTC). Tip: If you are going by Grab, make sure you pick this as your drop-off point to be dropped off exactly where the line will start.

I was super eager and had wanted to go early to get my spot in the line but thanks to a hectic morning schedule that involved a lot of drop-offs, I only managed to get to my appointment 30 minutes beforehand (I was scheduled for 9am). Which phew, wasn’t a problem because only those who were scheduled for 8:30am and 9am were allowed to be in the line to enter while others had to get out of the line and wait for their turn! So yes – don’t arrive too early or you’ll be loitering around in a crowded area which isn’t ideal right now!

There were a lot of signages, so you don’t have to worry about being in the wrong place or the wrong line. And if anything, there were also a lot of PDRM crew who were there to crowd control as well as make sure that everything goes smoothly.

Make sure your phone is fully charged when you are at the centre because there will be a lot of scanning using your MySejahtera app and showing it to the authorities to ensure that you are at the right place and the right time. You can also bring a book along but to be honest, I didn’t get much reading done because the whole process was so smooth and efficient that we were always doing something or being ushered to somewhere else to get us ready for our shots.

After waiting in line outside for about 30 minutes, the line started moving. I have to say that it was pleasant to see that Malaysians can actually form an orderly queue and be patient without kicking up too much fuss with all the waiting and being herded around. Kudos Malaysians, let’s do this!

From the queue outside, I was then regrouped to join another queue that would take me to where we were given consent forms to fill up (name, IC, medical history, declaration of agreeing to take the vaccine). You will be given two forms in both Bahasa and English so choose just one language to fill in. Don’t sign it yet because you will need to sign the form in the presence of a medical doctor.

After waiting a little while to be called again, I then followed my group for a quick consultation with the medical doctor. If it sounds like there is a lot of moving from one place to another, that’s because it is. But don’t worry – you’re not alone; all you have to do is follow the crowd and listen for instructions from those helping out at the centre. And it’s pretty clear cut so there’s no need to panic about what you need to do.

In front of the medical doctor, you will be asked several questions like if you have a pre-existing health condition and if you understand the risks and side effects of being vaccinated. Here, you can also ask the doctor any queries or share your concerns. I am allergic to certain types of pain killers so I was worried about what they meant by severe allergy in the form (there’s a question that asked if you have any form of severe allergy). As the doctor explained it to me, it basically means having to be hospitalized after receiving medication due to a severe reaction. But to be sure, make sure you share any ailments or worries you have with the medical doctor to feel completely certain and at ease on that day.

Once that’s done, it’s a short turn around the corner and just like that, it’s the vaccination area! This is quite a surprise to me because I had expected to wait much longer to be vaccination but because it was such a smooth process, it was quite surprising to suddenly and quickly arrive at the main event for the day!

Once again, you’ll be asked several questions to confirm you understand the risk and you’ll have to show your MySejahtera vaccination profile for confirmation. The doctor administering my shot asked me to repeat my IC number and name, and before I even finished telling him he’s already administered my shot. Which was a great way to distract from the needle and whatever fear you might have for it.

From then, you’ll go to the observation hall and wait for 15 minutes. Once that time is up, you’ll go to the explanation area and another doctor will explain the side effects and what you need to look out for as well as when you need to seek immediate medical attention. Then off you go – but if you’re hungry, make a pit stop at the food bar to get some snacks and drink.

And just like that, I received my first dose of COVID-19 vaccination! My appointment was 9am and I was done by 9:40am – that’s super efficient for something so huge! I have to say I was really impressed by the entire processed and had at first thought I would be spending a long time at the hall before getting vaccinated.

Tips for the day? Bring a pen to fill up the form, wear your mask, keep your distance and have a bottle of hand sanitizer with you. Pay attention to the authorities so that your experience can be pleasant and easy. Once you’re done, go home, rest and take it easy!

I had my vaccination at 9:40am but really only felt some side effects at night – body aches, joint pain, and a bit of light-headedness. That’s Day 1 though so I am hoping that Day 2 won’t be too bad. Just monitor yourself and if you don’t feel well, you can either take a painkiller or seek medical consultation at a clinic. But if you’re feeling really unwell (like constant dizziness and headaches), check in at the nearest hospital ASAP.

If you haven’t signed up for AZ yet, Coordinating Minister for the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme and Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has just announced round 2 for voluntary sign-ups. But priority will be given to those 60 and above on 23 May (so you can help sign up your parents) living in Klang Valley, Johor, Sarawak and Penang. Only if there are extras, slots will open on 26 May for those 18 and above.

Did you get vaccinated recently? Share your experience with us by tweeting us @graduan!

Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash

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