GPs want to do more for vaccination efforts

Fully equipped: SP Care Clinic in Rawang is among the private GP clinics which have facilities for Covid-19 vaccination and screening. — RAJA FAISAL HISHAN/The Star

PETALING JAYA: Several general practitioners (GPs) have been administering Covid-19 vaccines to the people since late May.

“Covid-19 has caused the country a lot of hardship and we want everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible for their own safety,” said private practitioner Dr Raj Kumar Maharajah.

However, the Medical Practitioners Coalition Association of Malaysia president said the process could be further improved and hoped patients would eventually be allowed to walk in to get vaccinated by their preferred doctor.

He said he had received many requests from his regular patients but could not help them as the vaccination appointments are determined through the MySejahtera application.

Dr Raj estimated that more than 100 clinics had come on board the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme since late May.

However, he was unsure if the number had reached the targeted 500 clinics set by the programme’s coordinating minister Khairy Jamaluddin.

Meanwhile, Federation of Private Medical Practitioners’ Associations Malaysia president Dr Steven Chow said he was also not sure if there were 500 clinics on board, believing that only a “handful of GPs have started to administer the vaccines”.

He also noted that the association and other societies had started mobilising GPs for an initiative called VAKZ4ALL under the Public-Private Partnership Covid-19 Industry Immunisation Programme (Pikas).

“Under this initiative, our doctors will be ready to provide vaccination services to the public and to SME staff members and families at their clinics or on-site,” he said.

Pikas is a voluntary immunisation programme for the critical economic sectors under Phase Four of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme.

Dr Chow felt that the government should do away with the pre-registration under ProtectHealth Corporation Sdn Bhd for all GPs providing this vaccination service, calling the step “redundant and not required by law”.

“All GP clinics are already gazetted to provide vaccination services as per the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998 and Regulations (2006),” he noted.

He also said GPs should be allowed to provide vaccination outside their registered premises, including at work sites.

“The Private Medical Practice Control Section is the designated regulatory authority for GP practice, including vaccinations, and not ProtectHealth, which is a company set up in 2015 for the purpose of administering social health insurance for the B40 group,” he said.

He believed that the pre-registrations for doctors and patients, as well as ensuring sufficient supply of available vaccines to the doctors were the main bottlenecks of the national immunisation plan.

“All Pikas has to do is procure sufficient doses of the vaccines and have it delivered to the doctor.

“This is the most cost-effective way to do mass vaccination by maximising the use of existing vaccination infrastructure,” he said.

ProtectHealth was contacted to get more information on the exact number of clinics on board the programme, but it could not respond to queries as of press time.

On May 30, Khairy said 2,500 GPs had registered to aid in the national immunisation programme.

Of that number, he said 1,800 GPs had already attended an on-boarding programme to administer the vaccines.

He also aimed to have 500 GPs to administer the vaccines by Tuesday, while 1,000 GPs would be designated at vaccination centres by June 30.

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