KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 21): The Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) should rope in the 8,000 private GPs nationwide for the final lap of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK), said the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA).
In a statement today, the MMA said the association is puzzled as to why the CITF recently decided to stop vaccination appointments at 741 private GP clinics, several private hospitals and ambulatory care centres in Selangor.
“These healthcare facilities were given only 48 hours notice by the CITF. The CITF should instead be encouraging more GPs to participate. There are 741 private clinics in the Klang Valley participating in PICK (250 in Kuala Lumpur and 491 in Selangor).
“Such policies of use when needed and dump when not needed will not augur well and discourage other GPs from participating,” said MMA president Prof Datuk Dr Subramaniam Muniandy.
Dr Subramaniam stressed that the CITF should be increasing and not limiting the involvement of private GPs in this phase of PICK.
“Mega PPVs helped provide the much-needed boost to our vaccination rate. However, now that vaccination has picked up, the CITF should phase out the mega PPVs and allow GPs to run PICK's final lap while the government strengthens its resources at public healthcare facilities.
“Most people find it more convenient to go to a private GP for their vaccination as private clinics are close to the community and not crowded.
“It is also the preferred choice of the people because of the personalised service,” he said.
The MMA, however, believes that both free vaccination under PICK and private vaccination should also be available at as many private GP clinics as possible as, after all, it will increase the overall vaccination rate.
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According to Dr Subramaniam, the exclusion of private GPs from the national vaccination programme is believed to be surrounding the coding system for the vaccine — a minor issue which the MMA believes can be easily resolved as the vaccine under PICK and the private vaccine will have a separate code.
“The CITF should also tweak the AZ (AstraZeneca) booking system to allow the public to book vaccination appointments with their preferred clinics.
“Each clinic may have their own vaccination capacity and with such a system, implementation and appointments will be made easier and well coordinated,” he suggested.
Dr Subramaniam hopes there will be increased engagement from the CITF as vaccination of adolescents aged 12 to 17 is only three weeks away.
“If GPs are going to be roped in as the Health director-general has indicated, it needs to be planned now — likewise [for] the booster shots that will be required in a few months,” he added.