Urgent need to vaccinate medical students

AS a medical professional and lecturer, I am appealing to the highest authorities in the various ministries to recognise that our very own medical students in Malaysia have yet to receive their Covid-19 vaccinations.

Medical students are the future doctors who will be serving our country, our children and our grandchildren. Hence, they should be considered as frontliners to receive the Covid-19 vaccination without further delay.

This pandemic is a wake-up call for our country to realise the importance of our healthcare system, beginning from our budding medical students.

Year Three right up to Year Five medical students are expected to attend daily ward rounds and hospital visits which we refer to as “clinical studies/bedside teaching”. Clinical studies cannot be substituted with online lectures.

For various valid reasons, priority for vaccinations seems to be given to SPM students going overseas, pregnant women, e-hailing drivers and riders, the transport and cargo industry, port workers, aviation industry, construction workers and even the plantation and retail workers.

But our future doctors have yet to be given this priority despite the fact that they face the highest risk because clinical studies/bedside teachings are conducted in the various wards.

These students are required to communicate with the sick and also examine them. They walk along the same corridors, the various wards and deal with the sick just like what the other doctors and nurses do.

Whether these students are from public universities or private colleges, they are all positioned in government hospitals. Hence, vaccination for all medical students should be carried out.

There are some who have already received their shots while others were fortunate to get through the AstraZeneca opt-in application, but not all have been successful.

Imagine their parents’ worry knowing that as soon as the movement control order is over, their children will have to start their daily hospital visits.

As a medical lecturer, it is so sad and painful to hear that these young people are anxious about their exams and worried about the risk they face as soon as they begin their clinical studies without being vaccinated.

In the medical profession, which many deem as prestigious, many people fail to realise the risk of dealing with the various viruses and bacteria in illnesses and many more sacrifices in terms of long working hours, limited off days and, to a certain level, sacrificing part of their social life.

Think of the parents who have had to fork out exorbitant amounts of money for the high medical fees in private colleges and universities, and how they have to deal with the risk their children will be facing in serving the citizens of this country. All they ask for at this point in time is compassion and empathy and to include their children in the priority list to receive the vaccinations as soon as possible.

So, to the authorities, please remember our medical students.


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