KUCHING: Vaccination against the Covid-19 virus for the employees of palm oil industry in Sarawak have commenced for plantation PPVINs in various parts of the state since 7 July 2021. Early vaccination centres are set up in oil palm estates’ premises in Sibu, Miri and Bintulu etc. where employees were administered the doses. Similar smaller scale exercises had also been carried out in various districts earlier under the government rural clinics and Sarawak’s palm oil industry is the first in the country to vaccinate its employees on a mass scale at estates, mills and refineries respectively. This clearly demonstrate that the Sarawak State Government, SDMC cares for the safety and health of its essential service sector. This effort was meticulously planned and carefully carried out by SDMC with major stakeholders and full participation of the plantation sector represented by SOPPOA.
“These vaccination programs are now being carried out in SOPPOA members’ premises and also in rural public venues for the employees of the palm oil industry in Sarawak are part of the national and State strategy to provide protection against the Covid virus pandemic in the country,” said Andrew Cheng, Chief Executive, Sarawak Oil Palm Plantation Owners Association (SOPPOA). According to him, SOPPOA members submit their employees particulars to MANRED (Ministry of Modernization of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Sarawak) for the vaccination program and are given schedules when the medical teams will come to provide the necessary services. By pooling large numbers of employees together in one setting, the vaccination program can be carried out efficiently. SOPPOA expressed full appreciation to En. Edwn Abit, Permanent Secretary of MANRED and team for the excellent coordination with SOPPOA, PROTECT Health Corporation and CITF to make this possible.
“In some rural areas smaller estates with lesser number of employees are also pool together surrounding smallholders to form a larger unit or share with existing plantations PPVINs to facilitate the vaccination program so that more people can be vaccinated in a much shorter time,” Andrew informed. As noted this is part of the State’s excellent initiative to vaccinate Sarawak’s adult population totally by end of August 2021 and the palm oil industry fully supports the program and do whatever necessary in collaboration with SDMC to have its employees vaccinated as quickly as possible.
It is the hope of everyone that the number of infected cases of Covid-19 in Sarawak will decrease through such vaccination programs and for things to return to normal soonest possible and the State’s economy back on track. SOPPOA advise all employees of all sectors to come forward and support this National Vaccination Program by providing all necessary resources available in an era of unprecedented joint human effort to fight against Covid-19 in the country.