It is indeed heartening to hear from the health minister that Covid-19 third doses and booster shots will soon roll out to eligible recipients.
Third dose recipients who are immunocompromised will get their shots at selected health care facilities under the supervision of medical doctors.
Booster shots for frontliners and senior citizens will be given by private clinics, while government health care facilities will take care of their own staff.
Apparently, arrangements for these shots will be cascaded down to the state health departments to manage. They are to decide on which private GP clinics are picked to participate in this vaccination exercise, but up to now, they have not engaged with the private GPs who are still in the dark about the programme.
There has been no planning and no coordination on the ground, at least not that we know of. We hope that all the GP clinics which had functioned as PPV GPs will be allowed to participate and not only a select few where the selection criteria was not made known to the GPs.
The GPs have been working closely with Protecthealth Corporation Sdn Bhd on the onboarding of GPs in the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK), and right now, there are about 1,635 private GP clinics that have functioned as a PPV GP
However, there is silence from the state health departments on the programme for the 3rd dose and booster shots. MMA wonders if it will be the same old story again where the state health departments will notify GPs only at the last minute.
As it is, many GPs are already inundated with calls from the public inquiring about the availability of the booster shots.
MMA understands that there will be around 8.75 million people who will receive the third or booster dose, hence the rollout needs to be properly planned and coordinated.
There is the need for efficiency and speed in this planned third dose and booster vaccination programme.
The health minister has on a number of occasions stated that the private GPs will be involved throughout PICK and going forward in the administering of booster shots and third doses.
The health DG has been supportive of roping in private GPs, but there has been poor implementation on the ground by the state health departments since the start of PICK. This needs to change, and quickly, if we are to ensure a successful rollout of the third dose and booster shots.
Dr Koh Kar Chai is president of the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA).
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