The Malaysian government has not declared the Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory, neither for every citizen nor non-citizen in the country. Instead every individual has supposedly been given the freedom of choice – either to be vaccinated or otherwise.
According to September 2021 statistics, slightly over 65% of the adult population have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in our country. In line with this, under the National Recovery Plan, the authorities have allowed the reopening of many sectors, with relaxation of restrictions in many areas throughout the country. However, even with the high number of fully vaccinated adults, we realise that the number of COVID-19 cases are high – hovering around 17,000 – 25,000 per day. The number of deaths due to COVID-19 has increased too – up 300 to 450 a day! It is time for all of us to be responsible, rational and ensure that we take necessary precautions in order to avoid contracting the Coronavirus.
In some Malaysian states like Labuan, Perlis, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Putra Jaya, Pahang and Kuala Lumpur, we see signs of progress in preventing COVID-19 infections. Even Selangor, which has been recording the highest number of daily cases, hovering around 5,000 to 7,000 cases per day, has seen a drop in numbers. One of the reasons for this is the fact that more people are vaccinated. Unfortunately, few other states such as Sarawak, Sabah, Penang, Perak, Kedah and Johor are seeing a rise in the number of cases.
When the vaccination was introduced in Malaysia, many people were reluctant to receive it due to inadequate information and a surplus of unreliable comments and views. However, people have come to realise the importance of receiving the COVID-19 vaccination to combat the raging pandemic. With more reputable and reliable testing and research, the vaccination has proven to help combat the effects of the virus.
The authorities have rightly encouraged every individual to receive the COVID-19 vaccination and have even imposed restrictions on those who have yet to be vaccinated. Without possession of a “fully vaccinated” certificate, these individuals are prohibited from entering certain public spaces such as malls, restaurants, office buildings, worship places, etc.
“Not fully vaccinated – no church involvement.” If priests and parishioners are not fully vaccinated then there will be issues in administrating or participating in the sacraments and liturgical celebrations. Indirectly, it has become a mandatory requirement in order to be permitted to part take in various activities and ceremonies like weddings, funerals and celebrations of Sacraments in the church.
As the vaccine rolls out nationwide, we hope and pray that the rakyat will be relieved from emotional stress and financial difficulties soonest, and that Malaysia may eventually experience economic recovery.
Rev. Fr. George Packiasamy