Last month, I accompanied one of our senior colleagues to get her first vaccination.

It wasn’t easy to encourage her to get the jab as she had initially refused.

She was afraid that it would be detrimental to her health. Although she doesn’t have any underlying health conditions, she has seen the side effects of some people who have taken the vaccination. She also lives alone and is worried something might happen to her.

Jessica is 69 years old and works as our pantry lady at the company when I am the human resource manager.

After reading the news on vaccination rates, our chairman Michael was concerned and reached out to our staff to identify who has not been vaccinated (we have about 40 to 50 employees) because we are a company who looks out for one another.

After speaking to Jessica and understanding her fears, my vice president Michelle suggested we accompany her for the vaccination and arrange meals and transport between the centre and her home to ensure she is comfortable and well taken care of.

To reassure her, I told Jessica about my mother who has high blood pressure and vertigo and went for her vaccinations; she only felt a bit of discomfort — tiredness and fever — after the second dose.

While accompanying her on our trip to the centre, I talked to Jessica to alleviate her fears. Little gestures like supporting her to go into the vaccination centre helped a lot too.

Elderly Covid Vaccination
(From left) Michelle, Jessica and Kevin. Image source: Kevin Lim

Michelle told me that on the day of her vaccination, Jessica had no appetite for lunch. Her hands were cold. She was very anxious because she did not know what to expect.

But she was still very brave, telling Michelle not to worry and that she would be fine.

When Jessica came out from the vaccination centre, she told me that she felt good and wanted to go home by herself because she didn’t want to trouble me.

I said: “No no no, we need to see that you get home safely.” I also reminded her that if there was anything she needed, I was just a phone call away.

After sending her home, we checked in with her about five times later that day to see how she was doing. The next day, we provided meals for her as well.

With our reassurance, something that filled her with apprehension became a good experience instead. She told us that she really appreciated our efforts and added that she now feels a sense of confidence that she is more protected from the virus.

I’ve scheduled to take her to the vaccination centre again on 12 Aug for her second jab.

Dealing with vaccine fears

For Singaporeans to encourage more seniors to get vaccinated, we need to find out the root of the issue: Why do they not want to be vaccinated?

We need to reach out to talk to them, to alleviate their fears and educate them.

A personal touch is crucial.

Michelle told me that Jessica told her that she feels valued because she knows everyone in the company, including our chairman, because they talk to her and treat her like family.

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Organisations can also play a part.

Our chairman Michael and vice president Michelle were proactive in looking out for the needs of our staff members because this allowed everyone to work in a safe environment.

We recently did an internal poll to make sure that everyone is vaccinated and we have a 100% vaccination rate!

Of course, being vaccinated doesn’t mean that we can let our guard down. We still have to be vigilant with our safe management measures, wearing masks at all times and not having gatherings in the office. We are still mostly working from home, with staff only going to the office when they need to.

It gives us comfort and assurance to know that our families and loved ones are protected and that we are working in a safe environment as Singapore moves forward.

Kevin Lim

Top Image: Kevin Lim