KUALA LUMPUR, April 16 — Medical experts have urged the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) to change its coronavirus vaccine registration strategy, amid slow sign-ups through the MySejahtera mobile app.
Some proposed allowing people to book their desired vaccination appointments, instead of the government’s current method of sending a date to intended vaccine recipients and rescheduling if the first offer is declined.
Dr Ahmad Munawwar, who is the Selangor Task Force Operation programme manager, noted that while working on the ground, it is difficult to get people to register and prepare the name list for vaccine recipients in advance, especially for marginalised communities.
“One of the main feedback on the registration hesitancy was that they don’t know when they are going to get (the vaccine),” Dr Munawwar told CodeBlue.
He suggested for the government to use a ticketing system for Covid-19 vaccination, on top of the pre-existing MySejahtera system.
For example, locations and dates can be assigned, then 500 slots or more can be allotted each day per vaccination site (PPV) according to capacity.
“Public sign up according to the slots. So, even the public can choose the time, date, and location at their own available slots.
“For the marginalised communities or rural areas, the community leaders can be the contact person to assist the sign-ups,” he added.
At the end of the day, when people are able to choose their appointment slots and location of vaccination, cancellations will also be at a minimum.
Singapore’s Health Ministry allows people to select their Covid-19 vaccination centres and vaccines according to their preference. Once a person receives a 10-digit vaccine registration code via SMS, they can log into the government website and book their appointment slots.
Meanwhile, in the United States, the public can book their appointment dates on eventbrite.com, an event organising website that lists the location of vaccination centres as well as the targeted group for that particular centre.
Chile, which has one of the fastest Covid-19 vaccine rollouts in the world, uses the calendar system rather than the appointment system. For example, April 15 is allocated for those with chronic illness between the ages of 42 and 45, while weekends are reserved for those who missed their appointments throughout the week.
On April 12, Coordinating Minister for the Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK) in Malaysia, Khairy Jamaluddin, reported that more than half (57 per cent) of those who received their appointment notification to get their Covid-19 vaccine did not respond and confirm their appointment.
Out of 31,776 people, 13,218 of them confirmed, 18,215 did not respond, while 343 of them declined.
As of April 14, only 8.76 million people have registered for Covid-19 vaccination, comprising 36.1 per cent of adults aged 18 and above in Malaysia.
Utilise Clinics Or Mobile Vaccination Units
Public health medicine specialist from University Malaya, Dr Nirmala Bhoo Pathy, suggested for the elderly to get their coronavirus shots at their respective clinics, which is also where they go for regular follow-ups.
Several Ministry of Health (MOH) primary care centres have the Klinik Warga Emas facility, which also sometimes has a Kelab Warga Emas for senior citizens to socialise.
“We can either use the peer volunteers to counsel elderly patients when they turn up to these clinics or through the existing health care workers in the clinics,” Dr Nirmala said.
Medical experts have previously pointed out that people trust their general practitioners (GPs) more than the government. Hence, since GPs are also allowed to distribute Covid-19 vaccines, GP clinics can be used as a site for people, especially the elderly, to get their jabs rather than at mass vaccination centres.
Dr Nirmala also said that the government can consider using mobile vaccination units, while pointing out that some tertiary hospitals may be well equipped to do so.
“Consider single-shot vaccines and/ or vaccines that are easier to distribute and store, without the need for ultra-cold freezers.”
The public health medicine specialist also said that Malaysia’s good primary care network of community nurses should be utilised to help influence people to register for the Covid-19 vaccine.
“Malaysia has a good primary care network and the community nurses (Jururawat Masyarakat) are well positioned to influence the older individuals who are their regular clients or reside in their area of care,” Dr Nirmala added.
“Home visits may be considered to counsel and help the older individuals to register.”
Change Registration System To Booking System
Bukit Gasing state assemblyman Rajiv Rishyakaran, in a statement on April 14, asked the government to allow people to book their specific time and date to get the vaccine.
Rajiv said that currently, through https://qmed.asia/booking, anyone can book an appointment to see a doctor or to collect medications at the Klinik Kesihatan or at several private clinics. A similar system can be used for vaccination.
“I have made several statements in regards to how the process can be made far more efficient if the vaccination venues are known upfront and participants can choose their date and time slot accordingly, the way we already do for most appointment systems, including in various government agencies,” Rajiv said.
“After all, MySejahtera is a location-based app and should be able to indicate the nearest available clinic or vaccination centre for the appointment to be made.”
Furthermore, Rajiv pointed out that the system of rescheduling another appointment for all those who don’t confirm or cancel their appointments will only strain the health care system.