Pharmacists go through unforgettable experience to vaccinate Orang Asli

Carrying heavy loads, travelling along tortuous roads and river crossing is definitely not something routine for pharmacists Gan Siew Pei and Hadiatul Ain Hasanuddin but they went through them all the same to ensure an Orang Asli community received COVID-19 vaccination.

Having to go down to the ground with workers of the Jerantut district health office and the Department of Orang Asli Development (Jakoa) was a once in a life time experience which they will never forget.

Gan, 26, said she and Hadiatul Ain, 29, tasked with the responsibility of preparing and ensuring the vaccines were always in good condition before being taken to the vaccination centre at Kampung Orang Asli Sungai Kucing, Ulu Tembeling here.

“The challenge started when we had to travel over a road pitted with potholes and strewn with puddles for an hour.

“Then we crossed a river by boat for about 10 minutes, and then, weighed down by a special vaccine-filled container, which can maintain a temperature of between two to eight degrees Celsius, we trekked up a small hill.

“Hadiatul and I had to carry together the special container filled with an ice pack and Sinovac vaccine doses because it weighed almost 20 kilogrammes, and ensuring that they were in good condition and complying with the stipulated temperature range to boot,” she told Bernama here, yesterday.

The second of three siblings said preparations had started last Friday.

She said the supply of vaccines was picked up at the Tanjung Lalang Health Clinic, Temerloh and transported to the Kuala Sat Rural Clinic here to be stored first before it was taken to the vaccination location yesterday.

The Pahang-born, who said she was earlier doubtful about the reception of the vaccine by the Orang Asli, was eventually relieved when the majority of the community easily understood the briefing given on the side effects after an injection.

Hadiatul Ain, who was eager to carry out the task regarded the challenge she went through as tiring but worth it because “not everybody could enjoy such an experience especially more so when visiting an Orang Asli settlement via land and water”.

“Prior to this, our routines were only giving medications to patients at the clinic, this time we departed a bit from our actual duties.

“We assisted the nurses and doctors in making preparations to provide vaccine injections whereby 150 doses were provided for the residents in this village.

“After taking care of the vaccines and ensuring they arrived safely to the vaccination centre, Gan and I played our role at the last station, namely, explaining on the side effects and the appointment date for the second dose,” said Hadiatul Ain, who has worked as a pharmacist for the past five years.

Meanwhile, the role of health workers from among the Orang Asli also helped in facilitating the affairs of vaccinating the community.

Among them, Health Treatment Assistant Bahari kalang, also played a role in persuading those Orang Asli who refused to be vaccinated other than assisting in the registration when the vaccination process started.

“For example, today (yesterday) one or two did not want to be vaccinated. They refused even after the Tok Batin (village headman) had talked to them.

“So, I met them and talked with them carefully and clearly on the good of vaccination and eventually they relented,” said Bahari, who has been a health worker for 20 years.

He conceded that his participation in the Orang Asli Mobile Team, which often met the residents of the village, facilitated the task of bringing around the Orang Asli concerning vaccination.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency