Sabahans hoping for relaxed measures pack vaccine center open for walk-ins

Huge turnout at a vaccination center in Sabah. Photo: Najib Razak/Facebook
Huge turnout at a vaccination center in Sabah. Photo: Najib Razak/Facebook

Vaccination centers are proving popular among Malaysians after the government announced it was relaxing rules for vaccinated persons. 

A center in Sandakan, Sabah was the next one to receive an influx of people after announcing that it was welcoming walk-ins. Around a thousand people were seen outside the Taman Harmoni vaccination center in Batu 3 this morning, according to a video shared to Facebook by ex-prime minister Najib Razak. It got over 300,000 views within four hours. 

“Said to be the Taman Harmoni vaccination center, Batu 3, Sandakan this morning,” Najib wrote in the caption. The video showed large crowds gathered across the open area. Nobody seemed to be practicing social distancing.

The police claimed that the situation was brought under control after deploying more officers to the scene. Deputy State Police Chief Mazlan Mazli said that only one officer and a RELA volunteer member were originally assigned to the center. 

Mazlan also claimed that the center was never this crowded, and believed that the sudden influx of people seeking doses of vaccine was a result of announcements that vaccinated persons would be able to enjoy more relaxed measures as well as the center’s announcement that it was accepting walk-ins. 

“It was announced that those who have received two vaccine doses would be allowed to dine-in, cross districts and states, among others, and that PPVs (vaccination center) in Sabah are now allowing walk-ins,” he said. “Because this PPV also started accepting walk-ins, people from all over the Batu 3 area, which is within the city limits, came in large groups.”

He added: “We didn’t expect so many people to come as previously the PPV was almost empty because people were still afraid (of vaccines).”

“But after our men arrived there, they quickly told the people to follow the SOPs such as obeying the physical distancing rule,” he said. He estimated that roughly 1,000 people had gathered at the center today.

Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin earlier announced the relaxation of certain COVID-19 rules for those who have been fully vaccinated, effective from Aug 10. 

Sabah local government and housing minister Masidi Manjun also said yesterday that eligible citizens and non-citizens will no longer need to make an appointment to get their jabs at various vaccination centers in the state. 

Mazlan said some of the people who gathered at the PPV today were upset that others were cutting the queue despite arriving late.

“But we managed to bring the situation under control not long after,” he said. “Our advice is that the people must respect the SOP … everyone wants to get vaccinated but that doesn’t mean you can disregard the rules.”

Nobody was arrested or fined today since some of them came from rural areas and might not be familiar with COVID-19 protocols, he said. 

Other stories: 

Malaysian man brings out 100 traffic cones for Grand Seasons vaccine queue

Crammed queue outside Grand Seasons vaccine center brings Malaysian man to tears

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