The Malaysian Dental Association (MDA) welcomes the move by the Ministry of Heath (MOH) in implementing the third Covid-19 vaccine doses for the nation. Health minister Khairy Jamaluddin has said that the priority for this third dose will be for groups that are at high risk, such as frontline health workers, the immunocompromised, the elderly with comorbidities, and individuals who live or work at long-term care facilities.
Due to the nature of dental practice, whereby dental practitioners are constantly in close proximity with the oral cavities of unmasked patients, early access to the third dose of the vaccine is essential.
Furthermore, it is not mandatory, nor a common practice, for all dental practitioners to request their patients to undergo Covid-19 screenings prior to their visits to dental clinics.
We have learnt from past experiences that the delivery of the Covid-19 vaccine to private dental practitioners could have been improved.
Although there were clear instructions that dental practitioners should be prioritised during the first phase, the implementation was not clear. This has led to a few organisations, governmental and non-governmental, collecting data for listing from private dental practitioners for submission to health authorities.
Despite the mammoth efforts, the implementation differed from state to state with delays in notifications. This has led to frustrations, and even complaints, by private dental practitioners.
On this note, the Malaysian Dental Association would like to express our sincere gratitude to Khairy, who was the coordinating minister for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK) at the time, for assisting us during those difficult moments.
Hence, we humbly appeal for the MOH and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) to set a single mechanism for the listing of all dental practitioners, and uniform implementation for the distribution of vaccines to ease communication and facilitate dissemination of information to our fellow colleagues.
Dr Leong Kei Joe is the president of the Malaysian Dental Association (MDA).
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