With the number of Covid-19 cases soaring every day, Malaysia is ramping up the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK) in order to fight the pandemic.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) has increased the target of 300,000 doses of vaccines per day to 400,000 doses per day starting in August. This means that the government would need more manpower and resources.
To help the government achieve this target and the country to achieve herd immunity, Columbia Asia Group has volunteered to open up vaccination centres (PPV).
Columbia Asia has been proactive in registering its hospitals as vaccination centres as part of the PICK campaign. This was carried out via applications submitted to ProtectHealth Corporation Sdn Bhd (ProtectHealth), a wholly-owned non-profit subsidiary of ProtectHealth Malaysia, established under the MOH.
“Our hospital setup is relatively small compared to other hospitals. Nevertheless, we are determined to fight this pandemic together with the nation by helping the country to speed up the Covid-19 vaccination campaign,” said Dr Sharonpal Singh, Columbia Asia Regional Emergency Services Coordinator.
“Our hospital team designed and constructed viable workflows and organised dedicated rooms and space so we can serve our duty as a PPV,”
Currently, Columbia Asia is working with the MOH through its eight branches that are functioning as vaccination centres, namely Bintulu, Iskandar Puteri, Miri, Setapak, Puchong, Seremban, Taiping and Tebrau.
Some 160 on-ground Columbia Asia hospital staff have been assigned to man these urgent vaccination exercises across Selangor, Johor, Negeri Sembilan, Perak, Sarawak and Kuala Lumpur.
The number of vaccines allocated for each hospital depends on available resources such as space and manpower. Collectively, the eight Columbia Asia hospitals are capable of vaccinating 600 people a day.
In order to expedite the vaccine rollout, Columbia Asia has been formed collaborations with corporations.
For example, in Bintulu, Columbia Asia Bintulu and Petronas worked together to set up an industrial vaccine centre at Kidurong Club in Bintulu. Some 5,000 employees who are attached to oil and gas companies based in Bintulu will be vaccinated here. It commenced operations on July 5 and offers both Covid-19 tests as well as vaccinations.
Other than Bintulu, Columbia Asia Miri also joined forces with health care company Qualitas to vaccinate oil and gas employees at the Petronas Carigali office in Lutong, Miri.
Columbia Asia Miri was also the first PPV in the Columbia Asia group of hospitals to commence operations when they started vaccinations on May 25.
The latest to participate in the vaccination campaign is Columbia Asia Taiping, which became the eighth hospital to offer vaccinations. This came as a huge relief to Taiping residents, who previously had to rely on just one PPV.
Medical officers at each hospital are on site to perform pre-vaccination assessment. They also carry out post-vaccination observations with the help of nurses. If any side effects should occur within the observation time, patients will be treated accordingly.
If patents develop symptoms after they have gone home and need treatment afterwards, they can choose to go back to the same hospital, or visit the nearest medical facility.
Everyone should do their part in the fight against Covid-19 by registering with MySejahtera to be vaccinated.
Once an appointment is made, check the location of the vaccination centre and the date of the appointment. The number and list of vaccines are based on allocated slots prepared by the district health office (PKD). Vaccination venues will depend on where vacinees live.
“We hope the public will not walk in without a MySejahtera appointment or try to make an appointment directly with our hospitals. Our hospitals will contact you prior to your appointment,” said Dr Sharonpal.
“We do not procure the vaccines ourselves. The Malaysian government is procuring the vaccines from manufacturers and appointing third party organisations to manage the vaccine distribution. The role of a PPV is entrusted upon us and we shall abide by its rules and regulations,” he explained.
“For those who have not registered, or are hesitant to take the vaccine, we urge you to register because unvaccinated individuals can serve as a reservoir for the virus to mutate,” he added.
“Vaccination provides immunity and has been largely protecting us even against the newer variants. Vaccination also protects us from requiring hospitalisation or contracting severe Covid-19,”
“Another benefit of vaccination is that it is more economical compared to the cost of quarantine, loss of income, and repeated testing. Vaccination may be our best exit strategy of returning to normalcy, so we are determined to be part of this programme, regardless of challenges.”