On the 27th of January 2021, the School of Biology, Kampus Kuala Pilah, UiTM Cawangan Negeri Sembilan, organised International Health Webinar entitled “Covid-19 Vaccine Awareness: Why is it safe to be vaccinated?”. The invited speaker for this webinar was an established Malaysian born Director of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Watford General Hospital, United Kingdom, Dr Nazril Afsham Nordin.
When invited to be the speaker, Dr Nazril, who had spent almost 20 years practising medicine in the United Kingdom, said he was honoured to share with his Malaysian counterparts all his hands-on experience treating Covid-19 patients in the ICU and the Covid-19 situation in the United Kingdom which saw an average of 20,00 cases daily at the time. His experience as a Covid-19 survivor and a front liner who had received the full dose of Pfizer vaccine made him the most suitable speaker for this event.
The webinar, which was moderated by Dr. Amirul Adli Abd Aziz, a senior lecturer at the School of Biology, was attended by over 953 keen and concerned participants across Malaysia as news and rumours on the emergency mass vaccination programs undertaken by developed nations including the United Kingdom and some European countries had spread.
Attendees consisted of Malaysians from various backgrounds including lecturers, medical practitioner, students, and members of the public who wished to clear misconceptions and misinformation regarding the safety and efficacy of available Covid-19 vaccines.
After the opening remarks by the head of the School of Biology, Dr. Ida Muryany Md Yasin, the speaker began his talk by discussing the importance of vaccination in preventing the spread of infectious diseases, some key aspects of our immune system, and the danger of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Being a Covid-19 survivor, Dr Nazril talked about how UK hospitals were dealing with daily cases of infections especially from the perspective of the ICU. Dr Nazril also summarized different Covid-19 vaccine designs including the Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA-based vaccines that are currently used in the UK.
Having been vaccinated himself, he stressed how safe the vaccine is and how we should all be vaccinated when given the opportunities to achieve herd immunity as soon as possible in the hope of eradicating the virus before further mutations may render the vaccines ineffective.
At the end of the talk, there was a very fruitful discussion during the Q&A session between the speaker and the participants, some of the latter remarked how his talk had cleared their doubts about taking part in the vaccination program. They also commented that they were convinced to go through with vaccination and would not hesitate to encourage eligible family members especially the most susceptible ones to be vaccinated as well.
Commenting on the overwhelming participation, the program director, Dr Izzati Adilah Azmir said that the success of the webinar reflected the commitment of Malaysian citizens in educating themselves on the current pandemic and to also put a stop to it. The webinar that was also streamed live on Facebook has accumulated around 1200 views since.