I WOULD like to appeal to the Higher Education Ministry (MOHE) for it to seriously consider the safety of medical students (in their clinical years) who are learning and working along with their lecturers in hospitals. They are the only ones not vaccinated for Covid-19 in the clinical setting.
These students should be regarded as members of the medical team since they are performing history-taking and physical examinations and assisting in procedures in the clinics and wards as part of their education. Medical schools/faculties in countries like the United States, Britain, Hong Kong, Singapore and the Philippines have included medical students in their vaccination plan for frontliners.
Unvaccinated medical students who are performing bedside learning in hospital wards are at high risk of contracting and passing on the disease to the already vulnerable patients. They may also be living with constant fear and anxiety of contracting Covid-19.
With the current Covid-19 situation, these medical students are in dire need for vaccination. As the second part of the AstraZeneca vaccine opt-in exercise is starting on May 23, I would like to appeal to the Higher Education Ministry to work with the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry in securing the AstraZeneca vaccine for medical students, at least those in their clinical (final) year. If they were to wait for their turn in the National Immunisation Programme, they will be the last to be given the vaccines.
Medical students should not be the source of transmission to vulnerable patients whom they come into contact with during their clinical training. The safety of medical students should be ensured to protect the future of our healthcare professionals.
PROFESSOR DR MOY FOONG MING
Department of Social & Preventive Medicine
Faculty of Medicine