We’ve been vaccinated against COVID again — our second boosters.
This time it occurred in Malaysia, adding to our international vaccine experiences.
Our first COVID shots were in the Philippines, where we waited out the worldwide pandemic travel restrictions for more than two years.
On January 5, 2021, we each received the initial Jansen injections by Johnson & Johnson at our local municipal center (a covered basketball court) in Malay, Aklan, on the island of Panay.
On August 5 of 2021, we were again invited to the Malay sports center turned clinic; this time for our first booster shots (Pfizer’s Comirnaty).
Both times we felt lucky – and thankful – as foreign visitors, to be getting the vaccine at the same time as the rest of the Philippine population. Both times, our vaccination experience was easy, efficient, and professional by every measure. (We previously wrote about vaccination donations by the United States to the Philippines.)
How we got COVID booster #2 as tourists
Finding a place
Upon coming to Malaysia in early June, we wondered if we might be able to somehow get our next booster shots before our 90-day visas expired. When we started making plans to travel next to India, a less-developed country of nearly 1.5 billion people, the idea of a second vaccine sounded even more appealing.
One main reason we came to Malaysia was to take advantage of the inexpensive world-class medical care available here. After two years in the Philippines, we were overdue for consults and checks. During those contacts with doctors and health professionals we specifically asked about how visitors like us could get a booster.
Unfortunately, there were never any clear answers; vaccine protocols for foreigners were fuzzy. We were advised to look on the internet for clinics in our area which ‘probably’ could help us.
Admittedly, we never followed up with the research necessary to get the correct info. But we did keep asking around.
COVID booster luck
Surprisingly, just last weekend, some new friends related their positive experience with a very small government clinic located less than two miles from our rental apartment. Last Sunday, I rode my bicycle to the general area to scope it out (even though I knew it was closed on weekends).
Sure enough, I found the place. But it looked a little sketchy; a nondescript storefront in an older, low income, high-rise apartment complex – a crumpled canvas sign swung in the breeze. The setting was far different from the gleaming condo towers and modern hospitals campuses that are more common here on Penang island.
The very next day, I rode the bike back to investigate further. I brought our World Health Organization vaccine records (provided by the Philippines) — wondering if we could somehow arrange for the second boosters in the week we had remaining in Malaysia.
Inside the clinic was fine; small, tidy, filled with health information and brochures. Dr. Najeemu Hamzah and her staff of two other ladies were extremely kind and understanding as I explained our very unorthodox travel lifestyle and vaccine situation. After some initial uncertainty, I was thrilled to be told we could get another Pfizer booster if we both came back to the clinic the following day.
COVID booster #2 experience
Ellen and I both returned 24 hours later with all our previous vaccine paperwork as instructed. Once again, the clinic staff were super friendly and helpful (very good English). After waiting for several other patients to be seen, we were summoned into the doctors office and each again administered a dose of the Pzifer Comirnaty vaccine.
Immediately, our WHO vaccine records were updated to show the latest jabs. A secondary local vaccine card was also issued. And an official certificate from the Malaysian Health Ministry was also sent to my cell phone. If necessary, we shouldn’t have any issue with proof of vaccination going forward.
Finally, when I tried to make payment, all money was refused! No charge. Even my offer of a donation for the clinic was turned down. The ladies said their services are free to the community – including us! Payment is not permitted. Wow!
Before we left, we did discuss with the doctor our upcoming travel plans to India and it was suggested that we ‘pay it forward’ by giving the donation I offered to someone in need that we will undoubtedly come across during our India travels. Deal. We will certainly do that doc.
Medical expense tally from Malaysia
Now with just a few days remaining in our Malaysia stay, we have achy arms from the recent inoculations — but we feel relieved to know we needn’t worry about finding boosters in India (although it probably is possible).
In all, our COVID booster success is a great way to wrap up all the positive medical experiences we again had in this country.
For those keeping score, like us, we spent a total of $2,500 on health care while in Malaysia, including expenses for Ellen’s broken wrist when she was hit by a car in Thailand. We are now current on all medical / dental / vision care.
Next stop Mumbai, India.
As always, be thankful and generous, happy trails & more beer.
Life is NOW!
Thanks for reading, “COVID booster #2 in Penang, Malaysia.”