BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – The Jubli Emas Bunut Health Centre will be turned into a vaccination centre in the government’s latest push to accelerate Brunei’s COVID-19 vaccination rate amid the country’s worst outbreak

Health minister YB Dato Dr Hj Md Isham Hj Jaafar said vaccination centres have been ramping up capacity, with over 6,000 people getting jabbed on Saturday.

More makeshift vaccination centres are expected to be set up in the coming weeks, but finding enough manpower remains a major challenge, he said.

The health ministry has called on retired nurses and doctors, or those working in private healthcare, to step forward and volunteer their services.

As of Sunday, 35.8 percent of the population have received at least on dose of the vaccine, while 11.5 percent have received the full two-dose regimen.

The ministry aims to vaccinate a further 100,000 people — 22 percent of the population — within two months.

Asked whether there is enough vaccine supply to meet the demand, Dato Isham said they are expecting another shipment of vaccines by the end of this week. 

“If we get this vaccine, this will enable us to administer 10,000 doses per day,” he said.

“By next week, if we have the capacity to administer 10,000 a day, then in two weeks we can get 100,000 people vaccinated.

“That means in two months all can get the second dose.” 

At the moment, only the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is being given out to people registering for their first dose. The remaining stock of Moderna is reserved for pregnant women and those needing their second dose. 

Brunei is expecting 300,000 doses of Pfizer by Q4 of this year.

‘Totally unacceptable’

The minister also chastised people who had harassed and abused healthcare workers at the vaccination centres because of the long wait. 

“You will wait for a few hours, just be patient. You don’t have to get mad at people in the ministry or the staff.

“Especially spitting on people — if you do that we will bring you to court. We don’t tolerate such behaviour, it is totally unacceptable.” 

The manpower constraints also mean that the health ministry will not be able to offer home-based vaccination for physically disabled or bed-ridden people.

Dato Isham said with the size of the current workforce, a door-to-door vaccination service would only be able to immunise a small number of people per day, compared to if the team stays in one place.