KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 25 — Pharmacists do not need to help administer vaccinations because there are enough doctors, nurses, and medical assistants to do so, the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) said today.
The professional body of doctors also said there was sufficient government and private facilities to provide vaccinations, in response to the Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society’s (MPS) proposal to expand vaccination services to pharmacists.
“We certainly need all the advocates for vaccination we can get, but in rushing to offer the services of pharmacists to administer vaccines, the Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society is offering a solution to a non-existent problem,” MMA president Dr Mohamed Namazie Ibrahim said in a statement.
“It would be counterproductive to take pharmacists away from the important function they carry out to spend time learning how to administer intramuscular injections in such a way as to avoid damage to nerves and blood vessels while also avoiding infections and other complications,” he added.
MPS president Amrahi Buang said last Saturday that pharmacists should be allowed to provide vaccinations because it would take time for patients to get appointments at overloaded clinics and hospitals.
The Health Ministry is considering making childhood immunisations mandatory amid an increase in preventable diseases like measles and diphtheria.
Amrahi also cited a survey by the International Pharmaceutical Federation Collaborating Centre at University College London that found 44 per cent of 45 countries surveyed had community pharmacies offering vaccinations.
“Vaccination by pharmacists is not new. Of course the pharmacists will have to be trained and undergo a proper programme before they can administer the vaccines.
“This will not only take a load off other health service providers, including the government; it will also increase vaccine coverage by providing more access to people to get their shots,” said Amrahi.
But MMA said in response that community pharmacists could be advocates for vaccination by consulting doctors about patients’ doubts and by counselling patients who had questions.
“This role is all the more effective if they do not actually administer the vaccines, because they will not be seen as having any sort of vested interest in encouraging vaccination.”
Dr Namazie also highlighted doctors’ difficulties in getting sufficient vaccines due to manufacturing problems.
“I am certain that community pharmacists can play an important role in trying to find alternative sources of the vaccines,” he said.