Sultan receives COVID vaccine

James Kon

His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine injection.

With this first dose, His Majesty consented for the National Vaccination Programme for COVID-19 to be given to the public in stages, starting from April 3.

The announcement of the monarch receiving the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and the commence of National COVID-19 Vaccination Programme from tomorrow onwards was made by Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar.

The minister said, “Since August 2020, the Ministry of Health has made preparations for the implementation of the National Vaccination Programme for COVID-19 in the country, which include establishing a COVID-19 Vaccine Technical Committee to study, review and evaluate the COVID-19 vaccines available on the market, to ensure that the vaccines that will be used in the country are safe, effective and of quality, in addition to being based on data and scientific studies that have been put forward to date.”

He added, “Based on detailed research and evaluation, the Technical Committee has shortlisted vaccines that meet the aspects of safety, efficacy and quality.”

Following the review, the Brunei Darussalam Medicines Control Authority (BDMCA) has granted special authorisation for three COVID-19 vaccines to be used in the country. This special authorisation, also known as the Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA), is for the prevention of the COVID-19 infection during a public health emergency or pandemic, the purpose of which is to facilitate access and vaccination to combat pandemics, taking into account the high emphasis on the criteria of safety, effectiveness and quality.

A screen grab from Radio Television Brunei shows His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam giving a thumbs up after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine
Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar during the press conference. PHOTO: JAMES KON

The three vaccines that have been given special authorisation are the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine (AZD1222), the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine (BNT162b2) and the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine (BBIBP-CorV).

He advised members of the public who made vaccination bookings to attend their appointments, “because the Ministry of Health doesn’t want to waste any vaccine, as it is very precious. Once taken out of the storage, it needs to be administered”.

He also cited the fatwa issued by State Mufti Pehin Datu Seri Maharaja Dato Paduka Seri Setia (Dr) Ustaz Haji Awang Abdul Aziz bin Juned, that “the use of the COVID-19 vaccine is ‘Permissible (Harus)’ in accordance with Syarak Law”.

With the commencement of the National COVID-19 Vaccination Programme, Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham said, “The Ministry of Health will implement post-market surveillance and will actively continue to monitor the safety profile of vaccines, as well as cooperate with other international regulatory counterparts, to ensure that the vaccines administered are consistently safe and effective to use.”

He highlighted the importance of getting vaccinated by saying, “Although there are no cases of transmission among the population in the country, we are still exposed to the risk of transmission of the COVID-19 disease.

“Vaccination is the most effective measure to protect yourself, your loved ones, and even the community from the harmful effects of COVID-19.

“In the medium and long term, the more people are vaccinated, the higher the levels of immunity of the population against the disease. This can reduce the impact of COVID-19 on public and community health.

“In conclusion, the benefits and advantages derived from the COVID-19 vaccine far outweigh the risk of getting an infection.”