With multiple COVID-19 vaccines in use across the globe and mass immunisation programmes scaling up, there is optimism that we can achieve some normalcy in the next few months. Despite pockets of concern, consumer confidence in COVID-19 vaccines is increasing as more real-world experience accumulates on the safety and efficacy of the vaccines.
At Paramount, Group HR Director Jeffrey Quah said that the Group is actively participating in various vaccination programmes which include Program Imunisasi Industri COVID-19 Kerjasama Awam-Swasta (PIKAS), Selangor’s SELangkah programme, Retail Industry Vaccination Programme (RiVAC) and Construction Industry Vaccination Program (CIVac).
He said it was very encouraging that almost everyone in the company has registered for vaccination except for one. “Furthermore, roughly 80% of our Klang Valley colleagues have received at least one vaccination. In the northern region, about 35% of our colleagues have received at least one vaccination,” added Quah.
Caring for employees
By the end of July, a number of Paramount employees in the Klang Valley would have received their vaccinations at the 1Utama Shopping Centre, one of the venues for the RIVac programme. Those in the northern region will begin their CIVac vaccinations from 2 August until 15 September. The costs for the vaccines under all these programmes for employees are being borne by the Group.
Other initiatives that the company is taking to support the vaccination drive includes offering paid time off for employees to take their vaccinations as well as time off for the recovery period post-vaccination. To provide information and assuage fears about vaccination, Group HR also organised a webinar with a medical expert from Sunway Medical Centre to answer questions on COVID-19 vaccination earlier in the year.
Caring for our business partners
“As best as we can, we are including our business partners and associates to get their workers vaccinated too. We are hopeful that together we can achieve herd immunity, for ourselves, the community at large, our country in general, and the world,” said Quah, adding “This is our commitment to the safety of our people and in line with our vision, our commitment to the community around us.”
Caring for the community
Addressing the needs on the ground, the group has also made efforts to take care of our 500-strong community of construction workers. In the spirit of Kita Jaga Kita, Paramount Property responded by supplying food and care packages as well as cash allowance to the workers over the various lockdowns.
Moved by the plight of a newly established welfare home, the Pertubuhan Pusat Penjagaan Kanak-Kanak Cacat Shan Dai Selangor, our staff at the Paramount Property construction division organised a collection among themselves to raise funds to help in the centre’s upkeep.
Up north, our colleagues at Paramount Property Utara decided to reach out to the communities at Sungai Petani and Seberang Prai by donating a total of over 300 food packages.
Food aid was donated to 150 families through the Kuala Muda Crisis Operations Service Centre (Pusat Khidmat Operasi Bencana Kuala Muda) on 8 July 2021 where it was distributed to Kuala Muda and Sungai Petani areas. Similar food items were donated to another 150 families via the Seberang Perai Tengah District and Land Office (Pejabat Daerah Dan Tanah Seberang Perai Tengah or PDT SPT).
Earlier in the year, the team had donated wheelchairs to vaccination centres at Gurun, Kedah to aid senior citizens as well as those with mobility issues during the vaccination process. They also donated medical supplies to Hospital Sungai Petani.
Donating food baskets to the Seberang Perai Tengah District and Land Office
In July 2021, Utropolis Marketplace returned with their campaign “Helping Hand 2.0” to help provide grocery boxes to people struggling during the pandemic.
The Utropolis Marketing team extended groceries to the ones in need
Hope in the near future
Malaysia is now one of the top countries in terms of the speed of vaccination. As at 31 July, 13.5 million of our 33 million population have received one dose, while 6.5 million have received the second dose. But with daily infections at more than 16,000 daily and the number of deaths not declining, people are still anxious. It does not help that there are higher rates of infectivity with new variants while debates continue about the efficacy of the various drugs for treatment.
n Malaysia, there has also been talk about schools reopening by September. The Prime Minister has indicated that fully vaccinated individuals will be allowed certain privileges compared to those who are not vaccinated. At Paramount, Quah has indicated that employees may be able to return to office or work locations in the coming weeks.
However, amidst these tailwinds and headwinds, companies will still need to address some unique challenges with the anticipation of returning employees to the workplace. Amongst these include navigating a return to work across a range of vaccination scenarios (for example, where only part of the workforce is vaccinated), maintaining health and safety measures including protocols on meetings and possible mandatory requirements for business partners and suppliers to be vaccinated before being allowed into our office premises.
“We are seriously considering these measures in the best interest of the Group to protect ourselves, and in turn, protect our families and the people around us. We know all of you will take this positively and will proactively ensure that you will get vaccinated. We must believe that each of us can make a difference in helping to bring this pandemic to an end,” said Quah.
Admittedly, vaccinations certainly do not guarantee that one will be 100% protected. However, it will lessen the severity of the illness while lowering risks of hospitalisation and death, ultimately saving lives.
Living in the new normal
The hard reality is that this virus may be here to stay, and like it or not, vaccines are the only way for everyone to even begin safely reuniting with long-missed friends and family members. That said, until a larger share of the population is vaccinated, precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 will remain necessary.
The good news is in the UK, despite the economy opening up on July 19, the numbers of daily cases have been steadily dropping (from about 40k to 25k as at end July) . This could be because by then, 68% of the population have being fully vaccinated, and 88% of adults have at least received one dose (includes the 68% who have received both doses). Youths are just starting to be vaccinated.
Fully vaccinated people should still be mindful of the potential risk of becoming infected and transmitting the virus to others. According to new recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fully vaccinated people can share a meal or movie night in their private residence, without masks or physical distancing. Fully vaccinated people can also do these things with unvaccinated family and friends; however, prevention measures (such as wearing masks and physical distancing) should be maintained if any unvaccinated people are at risk of severe COVID-19 or if multiple households of unvaccinated people are mingling together.