General Practitioners should be part of the COVID-19 vaccination strategies

The COVID-19 vaccination in Malaysia has started in February 2021, however, the number of people being vaccinated is still very low compared to neighbouring countries and around the world.

Currently, only around 6% of the Malaysian population have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and around 3.5% have completed their vaccination. The rate is lower than Cambodia, Brunei, and Laos and we are far behind Singapore.

Malaysia needs to increase the pace in the vaccination to ensure that more people can be vaccinated. We need to achieve herd immunity quickly.

The US and UK, which used to have a high number of cases have seen their numbers reduced with more people getting vaccinated. Around 50% of the US and 58% of the UK population have already received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The number of COVID-19 cases and death due to COVID-19 in Malaysia is on the rise. We need to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible to reduce the risk to the population.

Mega Vaccination Centres

The government have setup vaccination centres in cities and major town throughout the country to deliver the vaccine. There are issue with some of the centres as these centres may not be able to cater to the large number of people coming for vaccination at this centre. The overcrowding may lead to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. People are worried that it may give rise to new COVID-19 clusters.

Vaccine Centres in Universities

The government is also planning to open up more centres in universities and university hospitals throughout the country. Any effort to increase the pace of vaccination will be good for the country. We need to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible for us to achieve herd immunity and move beyond this COVID-19 pandemic. We support the Government effort to have move vaccination centres.

When identifying places that are suitable to be established as vaccination centres, they should consider certain criteria.

  • The centres should have good connectivity and adequate parking for people coming for the vaccination.
  • The centres should have adequate space to ensure that there is no overcrowding.
  • The ventilation system in these centres should also be adequate to ensure that there is fresh air and contaminants are removed regularly.
  • Vaccination centres in teaching hospital will be good to vaccinate people with co-morbidity that cannot be vaccinated at community centres.

If the centres are in university teaching hospitals, there should be a separate flow for patients and people coming for the vaccination.

Speeding up Vaccination

There are two things that we need to look at to speed up the vaccination process.

The first is to ensure that there is enough vaccine available. From the information that we are getting, more vaccine will be available in June and July.

The second is to get those vaccine in to the people as soon as possible.

To accomplish this, we need to open up more vaccine centres around the country. We need to ensure that these centres are easily accessible to everyone, that is people in the urban and rural areas.

Opening more large-scale centres may not be the right move. This is because to establish these centres there will be a lot of money, planning and manpower. Healthcare workers need to be sourced from elsewhere to work in these centres. In the current time with the shortage of healthcare workers to manage COVID-19 patients in the community and hospitals.

Currently, all the vaccination centres are in cities and major towns. People living in rural areas sometimes need to travel up to 50km to go to these centres to get vaccinated.

We should engage all our 7000 general practitioner clinics throughout the country to assist in the delivery of the vaccine.

These clinics are closes to the community that they serve, and people are familiar with them.

The doctors in these clinics will be the best person to advise and deliver the vaccine to their own patients.

Written by Victor Hoe

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