I would like to urge the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) to seriously consider the safety of medical students (in their clinical years) who are learning and working alongside their clinical lecturers in hospitals.
They are the only ones not vaccinated for Covid-19 in the clinical setting, and are at high risk of getting infected or transmitting the virus to patients.
These students should be regarded as part of the medical team, since they are performing history taking, physical examinations and assisting in procedures in the clinics and wards, which form part of their education.
Medical schools and faculties in the US, UK, Hong Kong, Singapore and the Philippines have included their medical students in their vaccination plans, together with frontliners.
Medical students who are not vaccinated and performing bedside learning in the wards are at high risk of contracting and passing on the disease to the already vulnerable patients. They are living with constant fear and anxiety of contracting Covid-19.
With the current situation, these medical students are in dire need to be vaccinated. With the second phase of the AstraZeneca vaccine opt-in programme starting on May 23, 2021, I would like to appeal to the MOHE to work with the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) in securing the AstraZeneca vaccines for medical students, at least for those in their clinical (final) year.
If they were to wait for their turns in the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK), they will be among the last to be vaccinated.
Medical students should not be the source of transmission to the vulnerable patients who they will come into contact with during their clinical training.
The safety of medical students should be looked after to safeguard the future of our health care professionals. We hope the MOHE and MOSTI can work hand-in-hand to protect the health of these medical students and the patients who they come into contact with.
Prof Dr Moy Foong Ming is from the Centre of Epidemiology and Evidence Based Practice, Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya.
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