As Covid-19 cases remain high, the Malaysian Government has planned to collaborate with private hospitals and clinics to set up another five large-scale vaccination centres in the capital city, Kuala Lumpur. Prior to this, Tzu Chi has offered its premises, the KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall to be used at no cost, as a vaccination centre to help expedite the country’s vaccination effort in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic and to safeguard the health of the public.
On May 26, 2021, the Malaysian Government opened up voluntary registration for the AstraZeneca vaccine. The overwhelming response from online sign-up showed the public’s eagerness for vaccination. Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Khairy Jamaluddin, said that the Government planned to collaborate with private hospitals and clinics to set up five more large-scale vaccination centres in Kuala Lumpur, with the hope to administer 15,000 doses of vaccines daily by June 30, to expedite the effort of achieving herd immunity.
In face of the Covid-19 pandemic, Tzu Chi has offered its premises, the KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall, to be used at no cost as a vaccination centre. On May 28, the Health Deputy Director-General, Datuk Dr. Chong Chee Keong, along with his staff, inspected the venue, and was satisfied with the spaciousness of the place.
During the visit, Deputy CEO of Tzu Chi KL & Selangor, Sio Kee Hong, briefed them on the relief programmes executed by Tzu Chi during the pandemic, including donations of medical supplies to medical institutions and the “Kita1Keluarga” relief programme that aimed to help the local needy families who had been severely impacted by the pandemic. After the meeting, the team immediately briefed the Deputy CEO of Tzu Chi Charity Foundation (Taiwan), David Liu, and CEO of Tzu Chi KL & Selangor, Echo Chien, on the progress.
Chief Operating Officer of Clinical Services at Sunway Healthcare, Dr. Ang Kong Hui, who is also a member of Tzu Chi International Medical Association (TIMA), shared his valuable experience in the operations of a vaccination centre with the Tzu Chi team and assisted with the planning and preparation work. The tight schedule, lack of experience and strict preventive measures were added pressures for the Tzu Chi team. However, they were comforted by the words of Echo Chien, “Do not fret, just do it!”
On May 30, Deputy CEO Sio Kee Hong briefed and asked for Master Cheng Yen’s advice on the set up of the vaccination centre. The Master said, “The pandemic is a lesson which Mother Nature has given mankind. Only through amassing kind deeds and thoughts are we able to mitigate disasters…” With the Master’s blessings, the team proceeded to diligently work on the preparatory work and held several online discussions to ensure the successful execution of this mission to safeguard lives.
Coming together for the same mission
BookDoc, an online healthcare platform, is one of the collaboration partners. On weekdays, it mobilizes medical personnel to be on duty and also arranges for an ambulance to be on standby at Jing Si Hall. Chief of the Community Policing Malaysia (COPs), Kuan Chee Heng, on the other hand, offers voluntary ambulance services on weekends. As a friend of volunteer Lau Gah Seng, as soon as he learnt that Jing Si Hall is in need of ambulance services, he agreed to provide the services without much hesitation.
NLC General Pest Control, which had earlier provided free services to Tzu Chi International School Kuala Lumpur, also agreed to provide free disinfection services. Its Managing Director, Richard Ng, is a friend to Tien Chin Hsiang, Deputy CEO of Tzu Chi KL & Selangor. When approached by the latter for a quotation, he responded, “Will do for free! We appreciate the opportunity to be of service to Tzu Chi and the society at this time.”
With the smooth dry run of Jing Si Hall vaccination centre on June 11, it will start daily operation from June 19 until the end of September, and is expected to administer 600 vaccines daily. The vaccination services will be provided by BookDoc on weekdays, and by TIMA on weekends. In addition, Tzu Chi will also mobilize 50 volunteers daily for on-site assistance. This initiative received overwhelming response from the Tzu Chi volunteers, who are ever-ready to serve and to see through the completion of this mission. More than 160 volunteers signed up for duty within an hour after the registration was opened, and the roster was filled up the following day.
Although minimal manpower was mobilized for the vaccination centre set-up, the volunteers mindfully planned a one-way flow based on the vaccination process, ensuring no unnecessary crisscross during the process to provide peace of mind while at the vaccination centre. In addition, only the ground-floor area of Jing Si Hall is designated as the vaccination centre; all other areas such as, the offices and kindergarten remained as “Clean Zone” for safety reasons.
There are volunteers stationed at each of the six stations, namely, temperature checks, registration, counselling and consent, vaccination, observation, and appointment for second dose, to usher the vaccinees. Under the severe situation of the pandemic, it is essential to reduce the burden on the medical staff while safeguarding the public’s health.
Ensuring a smooth operation
Tzu Chi is the first NGO in the country to participate in the Ministry of Health (MOH) National Covid-19 Immunization Programme (PICK). The MOH mobilized manpower to assist the dry run of the vaccination centre on June 11, in a joint effort to facilitate vaccination services for members of the public and frontliners.
Sinovac vaccines arrived at Jing Si Hall early that morning. To ensure that the vaccines are stored at the recommended temperature at all times, volunteers attached an additional thermometre to the refrigerator and checked the temperature periodically.
Walking into a peaceful and bright hall, the vaccinees were seated in an orderly manner while waiting for registration. Prior to administering vaccines, the medical personnel enquired about the vaccinees’ health conditions to ensure their suitability for vaccination and also to clear any doubts they might have so that they could sign the consent form and get vaccinated with a peace of mind.
Prior to every injection, the medical personnel would inform each vaccinee of the brand of vaccine and show them the dose. After that, vaccinee would be shown an empty syringe to ensure that the vaccine had been administered. Before departing the vaccination centre, the vaccinees were reminded on the things to take note post vaccination. The whole process was smooth and reassuring to the vaccinees.
During his visit on the day of the dry run, Datuk Dr. Chong Chee Keong, Health Deputy Director-General, commended that the vaccination centre was up to expectation and had a very good atmosphere. The vaccination process went smoothly, without any stress of waiting on the vaccinees’ part. Volunteers were friendly, too.
Come joyfully, return with peace of mind
Since the start of the planning, Ee Hong Chew, one of the volunteer coordinators of this mission, visited Jing Si Hall practically every day. He was grateful for his family’s understanding. He confessed his fear to participate in any activities since the onset of the pandemic, out of worry that he might unknowingly carry the virus home or to work. However, seeing so many volunteers continued to serve selflessly especially during the “Kita1Keluarga” relief programme, he said, “I feel remorseful. Actually, if it is the right thing, we should just do it.”
Hong Chew believed that using Jing Si Hall as a vaccination centre will indirectly introduce Tzu Chi to the public. He also believed that the volunteers’ amicable attitude and exceptional service level will leave a good impression to everyone; and that they would come joyfully and return with peace of mind.
Appreciating the frontliners’ selfless Great Love and contributions to the people and the country, Thian Yen Peng signed up for duty with a heart of gratitude and joy. She said, “In the face of the crisis, I should give my best and do my part as a citizen.” Seeing the Jing Si Hall turned into a vaccination centre to safeguard the public’s health, she was deeply touched. She savoured every step towards Jing Si Hall, as she mindfully appreciated each moment in this selfless mission.
With his wife being in the high-risk group, volunteer Gan Geok Chew initially hesitated to volunteer at the vaccination centre. However, on second thoughts, he decided to seize the opportunity instead. He believed that nothing comes by easily, and one must cherish and be grateful for one’s blessings by diligently dedicating oneself. He also believed that as long as one takes proper precautions, there is not much to worry about.
Gan Heng Thor, who registered as a vaccination centre volunteer, was grateful that he could have his first dose of vaccination prior to the start of his duty. This would give him and his family more confident as he has been vaccinated.
Volunteer Tan Huay Yin said joyfully, “It is such a good feeling to come ‘home’! It feels even better to get my vaccination at ‘home’. My red mask reflects how happy I am feeling inside.”
When AstraZeneca opt-in vaccination programme was opened for registration on May 26, Huay Yin “competed” with fellow Malaysians to secure an appointment. Although she managed to secure a slot online, she did not receive confirmation of her appointment. She said, “Perhaps it is God’s will that I can return to my spiritual home to receive my vaccination and serve others. I am ready to serve even if I have to commit for more than 13-session shifts.”
Tzu Chi staff Ong Hsin Hui has drug allergy since young. She was hesitant to register for vaccination. However, she hopped on board bravely when she learnt that a vaccination centre would be set up at the Jing Si Hall. She said, “I am grateful that everything went smoothly. I hope by getting vaccinated, I could boost my mother’s confidence, who also has drug allergy, to overcome her worries and take the first step bravely. After all, it is everyone’s responsibility to get vaccinated.”
Jia Shao-Yan from China said happily, “It is so incredible that I could be administered vaccines from China in Malaysia! I am truly grateful for this! The vaccination process flow is impeccable, the sanitization and preventive measures are so mindfully taken care of, and the volunteers are so attentive to our needs... I could imagine the tremendous amount of effort they have put into this.”
A Malay netizen, Wan Mohd Zaki, commended the Jing Si Hall vaccination centre on Facebook. He said from the moment he set foot at the Jing Si Hall entrance, he was amazed by the warm welcome and ushering by the volunteers, from one station to another. What impressed him the most was that the volunteers stationed at the vaccination waiting area could recognize the face of each vaccinee in the order of their arrivals and usher them to receive vaccination on a first-come-first-served basis. It took only 45 minutes to complete the entire vaccination process from station one right up to station six. He said, “This organization is really strong, and everything from management, facilities, capabilities to cooperation is superb!” He hoped that other vaccinees would also have a pleasant experience like his.
His positive feedback drew the attention of Sin Chew Daily and China Press to report the story. In addition, Nanyang Siang Pau also sent its reporter to cover the story of Jing Si Hall being used as a vaccination centre to safeguard the health of the public with love.
One of the volunteer coordinators, Goh Mea Seng said, “From my past experiences of organizing activities at Jing Si Hall, we never failed to overcome any challenges we faced, thanks to the mutual cooperation amongst the volunteers.” The experience and key learnings from the dry run have given the volunteers more confidence that the operations will run smoothly when the vaccination centre starts official operation. Hopefully, this will contribute to the national initiative to achieve herd immunity.