Private GPs left in the dark about booster shots, says MMA

by S BIRRUNTHA / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

THE Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) said that private general practitioners (GPs) are still in the dark about their participation in the rollout of booster shots and third vaccine doses.

Its president Koh Kar Chai said the arrangements for these shots have been cascaded down to the state health departments to manage.

He added that the state health departments are to decide which private GP clinics are picked to participate in this vaccination exercise but up to now, they have not engaged the private GPs who remain 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 vaccination centre (PPV) GPs will be allowed to participate and not only a select few where the selection criteria were not made known to the GPs,” he said in a statement yesterday.

According to Koh, the GPs have been working closely with Protecthealth Corp Sdn Bhd on the onboarding of GPs in the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NCIP).

He noted there are about 1,635 private GP clinics that have functioned as PPV GPs, but they have not been informed by state health departments about giving the 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.”

Koh added that the Health Ministry has on a number of occasions stated that the private GPs will be involved throughout the NCIP and going forward in the administering of booster shots and third doses.

He said Health DG Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has also been supportive of roping in private GPs, however, there has been poor implementation on the ground by the state health departments since the start of the NCIP.

Koh stressed that this needs to change quickly if the country wants to ensure a successful rollout of the third dose and booster shots.

On Oct 13, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar said frontliners and senior citizens who have been fully vaccinated for at least six months will be given the booster dose immediately.

Third dose recipients who are immunocompromised will get their shots at selected health facilities under the supervision of medical doctors.

Booster shots for frontliners and senior citizens will be given by private clinics, while government health facilities will take care of their own staff.