By Anthony Dylan

The month of March in 2021 would be one where Catholics would be in the middle of Lent. This began from Ash Wednesday on 17th February and would continue until Good Friday on 2nd April and Easter Sunday on 4th April 2021.

It has been a year since many of us had been physically to church, but then; we have adapted to attend mass online and strengthen our spirit. We pray for the day that we can once again attend church physically.

It has been mixed feelings for me as we enter into the end of the last quarter. The probability of hope still looks within grasp. The vaccinations would surely be a shot in the arm literally in providing people some anticipation of better things to come. However, there would be some who are unsure about the vaccinations and the fear created by information obtained not necessarily from media but they could just be opinions raised by anyone.

Nevertheless, it is important to note that the inoculation program to vaccinate is just one of the steps to help in providing some protection to the general population. Some vaccines would require 2 doses whilst others may just require 1 dose. I am very sure that there would be more types of vaccines being researched and to be made available for use in future.

The way ahead for people to come forward in accepting to be vaccinated is for everyone to provide the simple facts of what the vaccine is, how was it made, where was it made, when would the programme start and where you can get vaccinated. With this, there must also be a clear awareness that being vaccinated is not a cure all but a necessary step to be protected.Β  As advised by many experts, you would still need to keep your SOPs and also practice staying safe. I am sure that the very reason for this is to have the possibility of herd immunity. This could eventually reduce the probability of critical cases. This has been done with many diseases before.

If you could take time to read; vaccinations for diseases have helped curb pandemics. The list includes BCG which you would surely remember as an immunization programme against meningitis and tuberculosis. Other vaccines created and distributed have helped with the control of Hepatitis B, Haemophilus influenzaeΒ type b Hepatitis A, Polio, Tetanus, Pertussis, Diphteria, Mumps, Measles, Rubella and Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Interestingly, many of us have forgotten the slew of vaccines given from the day one was born onwards. Hence, everyone would have gone through some sort of vaccination before. We did not turn into incredible hulks.

Whilst we wait for the possible positive turn after the vaccinations; it is very important that the general population understand the need to still follow the set SOPs. We are at a stage where it is necessary to not start thinking that the shot in the arm would provide you with invincibility. Thinking so and acting so would only invite catastrophe.

As this moment, we have been made aware of 3 phases within the inoculation plan. Registration has begun at both via the use of the mySejahtera app and manual registrations. I believe that it very important for all representatives to realize that whether you are at the Federal, State or local Government levels; it is important for one to put politics aside for once and focus on creating positive awareness of the vaccination exercise. I do not believe that the use of threats of punitive action would endear you a strong support for. Instead; you may even create a horde of anti-vaxxers.

We have a choice and personal decision in looking at our health risk and existing medical condition, to seek information from research and decide with our own conscience. Thereafter, it would be the responsibility of all whether you have been vaccinated or not to keep safe. We have to consider the common good of everyone. Seek out the elders and put aside your diverse backgrounds, culture, beliefs and status in making this fight successful. Avoid any stigmatization of anyone. God did not put you to live life on earth to discriminate, kill or hurt one another or the environment.

A mixed feeling indeed is for 2021 not because it is filled with the flaws we have remembered in the last few decades but for a better future. A mixed feeling of fear of the unknown, yet the visible or experienced result of success for acts never tried; and a possible unity yet again being possible when people just treat everyone responsibly and respectably. Let us not feed into getting heated up.

The weather in the past two weeks have already turned to being one which is very hot and it is reported that this hot spell would last until April this year. Let us hope that there is conscience left amongst politicians where their innate or learned habitual skills are used to heal rather than injure.

This Lent season is one where Christians commit to a solemn religious observance leading to Easter. A Lenten sacrifice would see many fasting by giving up set luxuries in life. I believe that it would not be long before we can again go back to our physical church to pray. I believe that humanity is not lost but rather lost due to the temptations of life. Pray that we could soon visit our elders and our friends in person and remember what the pandemic taught us.

God Bless