ROMPIN: Rubber tapper Dol Bahak, from Kampung Gadak, Muadzam Shah, regarded himself as one of the lucky ones having been among the earliest Orang Asli to receive the COVID-19 booster dose in Pahang.

Dol, 49, from the Jakun tribe, said he did not take long to think and spontaneously agreed to receive the booster dose when contacted by a representative of the Orang Asli Development Department (JAKOA) two weeks ago.

“I always watch the news (on television), it says the booster dose is good and important for us to get it...and since the past two, three days I’ve been listening to people talking about the new variant (Omicron). So, the more necessary for me to take (the vaccine).

”My village had also been paced under the Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO) and I do not want to see people I know getting infected with COVID-19,” he told Bernama after receiving his booster dose injection at Pusat Pentadbiran Kecil JAKOA Muadzam Shah here today.

The father of three was among 120 Orang Asli from around Muadzam Shah here who received the Pfizer vaccine booster dose under a pilot programme for the Orang Asli community in Pahang.

According to Dol, he and three other villagers left their home as early as 8.30 am to be at the vaccination centre, which is about seven kilometres away, although it only opened at 10 am.

“Now hat I have received the booster shot, I want to make sure all my family members get it to, and I will also campaign to my neighbours and other villagers on the importance of getting the booster dose,” said Dol, who is the Orang Asli Village Development Committee chairman.

Meanwhile, Pahang JAKOA director Johari Alwi said the booster dose pilot program was an initiative by the JAKOA Pahang Volunteer Team (JPVT) and would be expanded to other districts to ensure the community received proper protection from COVID-19.

He said the Orang Asli community was now more open and they understood the importance of getting the COVID-19 vaccination, especially after seeing people infected with the virus or having experienced living under EMCO.

“So far, more than 95 per cent of the 54,000 Orang Asli in Pahang who are eligible the COVID-19 vaccination have received either the first dose or the complete both doses.

“We have been informed that there are those who have not received the vaccine went to the health clinic to ask about the vaccination.

“Like today’s programme, even if it’s for booster dose, we still accept those who want to take the first dose because the important thing is that they want to be given the vaccine and then we will help them complete the vaccination at the nearest health facility,“ he added.

Among the Orang Asli who went to to get the first dose of the COVID-19 injection was Norzila Soni, 16, from the Jakun tribe, who said she did not get the vaccine because she did not have a smartphone to register on the MySejahtera application for the vaccination.

The girl, of Kampung Langkap here and no longer attended school, said she she only knew that the government was also giving the COVID-19 vaccine to teenagers.

“I came to this JAKOA centre after being informed on the presence of health workers to dispense the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Now at many places, they request to see the vaccination certificate, and also because I intend to look for a job to help the family... If I’m not vaccinated, no one is going to offer me jobs,” said Norzila, who went to to the centre with two friends. - Bernama