I know everyone is talking about it, and I’m no different. And it must be said that the reason everyone is going on about it is because everyone is impressed. I’m talking about the way the government, and more specifically the Ministry of Health, is handling COVID-19 vaccination.
Starting with the Sehaty app registration to make an appointment, then going to the center for the vaccine and leaving with a flower — the whole process is fast, professional and hassle-free.
I have not been vaccinated yet, but many members of my family have, as well as many friends, and they all say the same thing: How well-organized everything is, how easy the whole process was and how happy they were that they took it.
They also say how surprised they were that from beginning to end the procedure was so rapid — they certainly did not expect that appointments would be given within a few days of registration. But what I have heard over and over again is praise for the efficiency of the doctors and the young Saudis who guide, direct and help everyone going in to get vaccinated.
It makes me proud to know that our young people are reliable, conscientious and serious about what they do. It makes me proud to know about these services and that they are freely given to everyone in the Kingdom.
Saudi Arabia acted quickly at the beginning of the pandemic. No doubt, lessons learnt from past experiences were responsible for implementing necessary measures.
MERS, which itself is a coronavirus, was first reported in the Kingdom in September 2012 and spread to over 27 countries, although close to 90 percent of the cases occurred here. It is still endemic but controlled and has taught the country to be in a state of preparedness and readiness in order to curb any possible pandemic.
When COVID-19 reached Saudi Arabia in March 2020, the Kingdom was one of the few countries to impose extreme measures on everything from travel to education, social movement and gatherings, even before 100 cases were reached.
MERS put down the foundations for a better health system, and improved policies and measures, and although we still have a way to go, Vision 2030 has recognized the need for fundamental changes in the healthcare sector.
Another aspect that has helped us with COVID-19 is the fact that, at the time of MERS, over 25 hospitals were designated for the isolation and treatment of MERS patients. These hospitals are now being used to treat COVID-19 patients. As for the efficiency and compassion seen today in the vaccination centers, this was taught to us by the millions of Hajj pilgrims who expect safety and security during their visit.
From preventive measures to free testing and vaccinations for all, I think there is much of which to be proud.
• Hoda Al-Helaissi has been a member of the Shoura Council since 2013. She is also a member of the Shoura’s Foreign Affairs Committee.