The Maldives has been battling the global pandemic COVID-19 since early last year with intervals of respite over the course of one year. Like the rest of the world, the country has also adapted to the ways of living in the new normal with facemasks and trying to avoid potential lockdowns by keeping a safe distance from one another.

Members of RRT transfer a patient during the pandemic

But the safest way to avoid another devastating wave of the infection or more debilitating lockdown measures is simple; get the COVID vaccine.

It is highly impressive that the world has produced not only one but several vaccines against the COVID-19 disease and more impressive yet that the Maldives had joined the many countries opting to vaccinate its population against the pandemic.

The Maldives began its COVID vaccination program in February this year and the program has received well-rounded support from the majority of the country.

The government has targeted to get at least 90% of the eligible population vaccinated by the end of August. But the burden of making sure that the program is successful does not only fall on the shoulders of the government but also on individuals too.

A man receives the COVID-19 vaccine/ Photo: The Press

Why do we need vaccination?

Most anti-vaxxers argue that even if one receives the COVID vaccine, it does not prevent that person from contracting the virus. This is true, individuals who receive the vaccine are still susceptible to the illness but what the vaccine does is prepare the body in its fight against the illness.

When the vaccine is injected into a patient, it prompts the immune system to start making antibodies and primes it to attack any coronavirus infection. It also helps in preventing the elder generation as well as those who are at risk due to other complications of health.

If one listens to the information passed from the health agency and other relevant authorities getting the vaccination is the most essential way of fighting the virus as it helps to control the effects of the COVID-19.

Dr Nazla Rafeeq - official spokesperson of HEOC

Therefore, if the two-dose of vaccine have been administrated it helps one's body fight the virus before it can cause too much damage and help in curing a person before they get critical. At the moment there are two brands of vaccine which is available in the Maldives which are AstraZeneca and Sinopharm.

Is the information not adequate to get vaccinated?

The reason why many are still to get their shots is a mystery but could it be due to inadequate information or maybe misinformation?

Social media and the internet may be rife with why a person must get their COVID shots to fight the pandemic but there is also an abundance of untrue information about the vaccination. Like how it affects a woman's chances of having children to other irrational and untrue information.

It is on the authorities to separate the information from the misinformation and present it to the public in a manner that is both accessible and effective. HPA's 'Halubelunn' program does just that by getting together experts and answering questions about COVID vaccinations.

What needs to be done to get the vaccine?

Long gone are days that put an individual at risk of contracting the COVID-19 illness while in line to get vaccinated against the disease because of the long and winding queues often times lacking the 3ft social distance.

People in queue to give COVID sample in Male'/ Photo: The Press

Now, you can just make an appointment and set the time of the vaccination at your own convenience while you can also get vaccinated by just walking into the vaccination centers.

To make an appointment to get the vaccination done all you have to do is to log in to the HPA’s vaccination portal fill in the details of the national identity card and fill in the information on the day and time to make the appointment. After the appointment is fixed an SMS will be sent to the phone. When you go to the appointment the SMS should be shown to get the vaccination.

Is the vaccine mandatory?

Getting vaccinated is not mandatory, however, if more people administrate the vaccine, it would mean that we will be able to return closer to normal.

As an individual, if you get vaccinated you are reducing the chance of being infected and reducing the chance of passing it on to those who are at high risk.

Though vaccination is not mandatory, HPA had said starting next month there would be restrictions for those who refuse to vaccinate against the pandemic and these restrictions can be implemented in eating establishments, domestic airports, public transport vehicles, and by public service providers.

HPA had also said those who are not vaccinated can also be restricted by offices.

Schools in the new normal/ Photo: Education Ministry

Education Ministry had also said that starting from next month, only double-dosed parents would be allowed to enter school grounds.