PETALING JAYA: The “jab first, register later” approach allowing people to walk in to a Covid-19 vaccine dispensing centre (PPV) for their jab before even registering is to ease the process for rural dwellers, says the Health Minister.
Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba said there were five ways to register for inoculation and the walk-in vaccination service is for those living in the interior areas, who do not use smartphones or the MySejahtera app.
The usual announcements by the government also do not easily reach people living in these rural areas, he added.
“The walk-in method is the fifth way to register for vaccinations and this is what we use for those living in remote areas in the country.
“The four other ways to register for vaccination are by MySejahtera, the website, through the hotline or by registering at a clinic or hospital,” he said when contacted.
Internet access and phone lines are unreliable in rural areas, and villages can be very far from clinics, hospitals or community halls functioning as PPVs, making it difficult for folks in these parts to register for inoculation.
In Sarawak, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said on June 7 that rural folk in the state would be given the Covid-19 jab if they turn up at vaccination centres without having registered first.While lauding the walk-in method for rural folks, health experts suggested the same service be extended to senior citizens in more urban parts as well, as they too struggle with smartphone and Internet use.
Medical Practitioners Coalition Association of Malaysia president Dr Raj Kumar Maharajah said the “inject first, register later” policy is more practical and easier for everybody, pointing out that Singapore has already started this.
He said that his clinic, which has just been appointed a PPV for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme, received many calls from the public, especially seniors, expressing their interest to walk in and get their vaccine.
However, private healthcare facilities under the national plan function just like any other PPV and do not have the power to provide vaccine choice or appointment slots at their own discretion.
“When I explained to them that they cannot walk in and must still wait for an appointment via MySejahtera, immediately they lost their excitement and said that they would rather just wait for when they can walk in and get their jabs,” he added.
Malaysian Public Health Physicians Association president Datuk Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar said the walk-in policy and mobile vaccination efforts were a smart way to get those in the interior areas inoculated, as they live far from PPVs.
He also suggested that the walk-in policy be extended nationwide, adding that this walk-in service could be opened up especially for senior citizens.
“Each PPV could set aside a number of vaccines for the estimated turnouts.
“Like in Singapore, they prioritise seniors above 60 years old, and this group can just walk into any PPV to get their jab,” he said.