KUALA LUMPUR, August 23 — The Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) said it would consider recruiting private general practitioner (GP) clinics in the public coronavirus vaccination programme, after shuttering vaccine centres in those facilities in the Klang Valley.
CITF said the federal government would decide in the future on booster vaccine programmes and Covid-19 vaccination for adolescents aged 12 to 17 years, as well as continued vaccine rollouts for those newly registered for their shots from time to time.
“Announcements on the implementation of these and other issues will be made from time to time when there is more concrete planning based on data, needs, as well as consensus decisions by all parties on new or current policies,” CITF said in a statement yesterday.
CITF justified the closures of vaccine centres (PPVs) under the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK) in the Klang Valley this month, including PPVs in GP clinics, as Operation Surge Capacity (OSC) has ended after purportedly vaccinating every adult resident in the region with their first dose.
According to CITF, a total of 12 PPVs in the Klang Valley, including private clinics, have been closed as of August 22, whereas another 21 PPVs will be closed from today until August 29.
“Of the 32 PPVs closed, seven are public PPVs. General practitioners contributed about five per cent of the total injections given during this period.”
After the implementation of OSC from July 26 to August 1 in the Klang Valley, as of August 21, a total of 107.7 per cent adults in the region have received at least the first dose of Covid-19 vaccine. That includes undocumented migrants and non-residents in the Klang Valley.
“CITF takes into account various things in the operation of PICK, such as the capacity of the PPVs, the number of individuals to be vaccinated, and vaccine supply. Current needs like outbreak control also influence the administration of PICK as a nationwide Covid-19 immunisation programme.”
CodeBlue reported last Friday that ProtectHealth Corporation — which manages private medical practitioners administering Covid-19 jabs under PICK — informed GPs that CITF will no longer give vaccine appointments at general practitioner clinics, specialist clinics, private hospitals, and ambulatory care centres from today.
CITF will instead open walk-in jabs for Malaysians only in 13 PPVs across Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, and Putrajaya from today. CITF also stopped allowing walk-ins for foreigners at the Stadium Nasional Bukit Jalil PPV from today and instead requires foreigners to book vaccine appointments on MySejahtera, PICK’s hotline, or online.
Doctors’ groups — the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) and the Federation of Private Medical Practitioners’ Associations, Malaysia (FPMPAM) — have opposed CITF’s decision to shutter PPVs in private health care facilities.
MMA said that the role of GPs in the public Covid-19 vaccination programme will be crucial for booster shots and teen inoculation.
FPMPAM also highlighted a potential surge of Covid-19 cases in Malaysia after the completion of double doses under PICK, like what is happening in other countries that are now implementing booster shots.
Klang MP Charles Santiago questioned federal statistics on vaccination rates in Selangor, pointing out that although 796,313 people in Klang were registered on MySejahtera for inoculation as of August 3, the actual adult population in the large district numbers at 1.3 million.
Hence, although 716,682 people in Klang aged 18 and above have received at least one vaccine dose as of August 3, which the government touts as 90 per cent coverage, the real figure needed for 90 per cent coverage is actually 1.17 million people.
Thus, Charles estimated a shortfall of 453,318 adults, or 35 per cent of Klang’s adult population, who have yet to be vaccinated with their first dose.
“Clearly, we have not reached the 90 per cent numbers as stated by the government as a basis for closing the PPVs,” Charles said in a statement yesterday.
“This is unfair and unjust to the unvaccinated since we have now closed the first dose line for them. We urge that the first dose option continue to be opened and made available so that the 453,318 individuals can be vaccinated.”
Charles also added that many people have not registered for vaccines with MySejahtera, and it is not suitable to use the application as a decision making tool.
“Based on the experience in managing PPV Hokkien Hall, more than 1,500 citizens and non-citizens had to be registered on-site by volunteers as they were either unable to register in MySejahtera or complete the documentation required to get an appointment.”