Vaccination programme begins nationwide

James Kon, Aziz Idris, Daniel Lim & Lyna Mohamad

Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar, senior officials and frontliners received the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine at Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital yesterday.

The minister, who was under observation for 15 minutes after being vaccinated, told the media that “it was painless” and encouraged the public to be inoculated.

A total of 754 were vaccinated nationwide as of yesterday.

Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham said, “We need to be together in protecting the whole country. Therefore everyone needs to play a part. Everyone eligible should get vaccinated.

“We need to achieve a herd immunity where at least 70 per cent of the population gets vaccinated to protect the people who will not be able to be inoculated.”

He said frontliners including healthcare, police and uniformed personnel, RB pilots and people manning the borders were vaccinated on the first day.

“The vaccination of senior citizens will start this month.”

Sinopharm and AstraZeneca vaccines were administered yesterday.

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 received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday.

Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham said, “We hope the people will be more confident and come forward to be vaccinated. We hope to reach a herd immunity by the end of the year where 70 per cent of the population is vaccinated. Only then the country will be more receptive to border restrictions easing.”

Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar receives the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. PHOTO: BAHYIAH BAKIR
Paramedics of RIPAS Hospital receive their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. PHOTO: BAHYIAH BAKIR
A vaccine card will be given after the first jab and updated for the second dose. PHOTO: DANIEL LIM
ABOVE & BELOW: Pengiran Isteri Hajjah Mariam Hospital Deputy Medical Superintendent Pengiran Dr Noor Azmi bin Pengiran Dr Haji Mohammad receiving his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine; and Pengiran Muda Mahkota Pengiran Muda Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah (PMMPMHAMB) Hospital Chief Executive Officer Abdul Mu’iz bin Haji Ibrahim, PMMPMHAMB Hospital Deputy Medical Superintendent Pengiran Dr Noor Affizan binti Pengiran Haji Abdul Rahman and staff show their vaccine cards after receiving their first dose of the vaccine. PHOTOS: LYNA MOHAMAD & AZIZ IDRIS

Asked if the country needs to follow the new norm after vaccination, the minister said that it is still necessary.

“We still need to live in the new norm. Research has shown that it can only reduce the risk of severe complications for individuals who have been vaccinated. No data shows that vaccinated individuals will not get the virus. An ongoing study has revealed that it can prevent the actual virus but it’s still a small study. The aim of being vaccinated is to reduce the risk of severe complications and needing to be admitted to the ICU or death.”

He said vaccination does not mean an individual can do whatever he wishes.

“If a person travels to a high risk country, he will still need to practice good hygiene, wear masks and practise social distancing,” Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham said.

“Individuals who are at high-risk, people over 60 years and above, people with chronic diseases like diabetes, kidney disease and others need to be protected and should get vaccinated.”

The permanent secretary, deputy permanent secretaries, senior officers, officers and staff of the Ministry of Health and frontliners were administered the vaccine.

Over 468 in Brunei-Muara District received the first dose of the vaccine yesterday.

Meanwhile, 117 frontliners and healthcare workers at Pengiran Muda Mahkota Pengiran Muda Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah (PMMPMHAMB) Hospital received their first dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine yesterday.

PMMPMHAMB Hospital Chief Executive Officer Abdul Mu’iz bin Haji Ibrahim was the first to receive the dose of AstraZeneca in the cohort of frontline workers as part of the National Vaccination Programme for the district.

He said the rollout was an important milestone in the country’s fight against the virus.

“Frontlines get priority vaccination ahead of the rollout to the general public. When more people are vaccinated, the safer it will be for all,” he noted.

Echoing the same sentiment was PMMPMHAMB Hospital Deputy Medical Superintendent Pengiran Dr Noor Affizan binti Pengiran Haji Abdul Rahman, who also received her vaccine yesterday.

“Today is a historic day. All this while – for the past year, we were only battling defensively against COVID-19. But today is the day we go on the offensive. Today we are given the weapon to fight this virus,” she said.

Pengiran Dr Noor Affizan expressed her gratitude to the volunteers who stepped forward during Phase One of the vaccination programme.

“You (volunteers) are setting a great example by becoming one of the first to be vaccinated. I hope that when others have their turn to get the vaccine, they will also confidently roll up their sleeves. The only way we can fight the virus is if we work together,” she added.

In Belait District, the focal point for the inoculation was the Learning and Development Centre of the Suri Seri Begawan (SSB) Hospital, Kuala Belait. Among the first to receive the vaccine was the hospital’s Chief Executive Officer Borhan bin Haji Hamdan.

Medical Superintendent Dr Chong Chean Leung, Deputy Medical Superintendent Dr Haji Mohd Ali Shahbana bin Mohd Yassin, Officer- in-Charge of Health Department Dr Haji Muhammad Norizni bin Haji Mosli, Basic Health Care Services Senior Medical Officer Dr Mohd Elham bin Haji Mohd Ismail, Deputy Head of Nursing Hajijah binti Abdul Harris and the hospital’s medical officers and staff were also vaccinated.

With over 129 frontliners receiving the vaccination yesterday, the SSB Hospital CEO said he did not have any side effects after the vaccination.

“The vaccination is one step closer to achieving a herd immunity against the virus,” he said.

Borhan said the proper procedure was being followed and the public should not fear to be inoculated.

Over 700 frontliners in Belait District are to be vaccinated and is estimated to take around two weeks.

In Temburong District, 40 frontliners, comprising staff and officers of Pengiran Isteri Hajjah Mariam (PIHM) Hospital, received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the hospital yesterday.

PIHM Hospital Deputy Medical Superintendent Pengiran Dr Noor Azmi bin Pengiran Dr Haji Mohammad and Medical Officer for Health Section at the Department of Health, Temburong Dr Hajah Martina binti Dato Seri Paduka Haji Kifrawi were the first to be inoculated.

Dr Hajah Martina said being a healthcare worker, it is her social responsibility to protect herself, her family and also the community.

She added that she’d noticed misinformation on social media about the vaccine which did not come from reputable sources.

Dr Hajah Martina urged the public to ensure that whatever is read should be from a reputable source with official information with the logo of a reputable organisation such as the Ministry of Health or World Health Organization (WHO).

Speaking about registering, she said a yellow booklet is issued which serves as an international document containing details of the vaccination such as the date of the first dose and the type and brand of the vaccine.

After vaccination, a person will be on observation for 15 minutes for side effects and informed of the date of the second dose.

“If a person experiences side effects on arrival at home such as fever or muscle ache, the person can fill in the adverse effect form available in the BruHealth app. If the app is not available, the form given during the vaccination should be completed and submitted to the clinic.”

The recommended dosage is two given intramuscularly (0.5ml each) with an interval of eight to 12 weeks.

A vaccine card will be given after the first jab and updated for the second dose. The card also includes the holder’s details, vaccine manufacturer, the dose numbers and the date and location each was administered.

Vaccinations are also tracked by the BruHealth.

The public is urged not to go to any of the vaccination centre as the Ministry of Health will inform when booking for appointments is open.

The public is advised to verify their BruHealth accounts and ensure personal information in Bru-HIMS is updated.

For information the public can log on to the Ministry of Health website at www.moh.gov.bn or contact the Health Advice Line at 148 or through the BruHealth app.