The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) today urged authorities to include private healthcare workers such as GPs in the group of frontliners to receive Covid-19 jabs in the first phase of the national vaccination programme, saying all healthcare workers directly exposed to risk of Covid-19 should be inoculated in Phase 1.
MMA president Dr Subramaniam Muniandy said private healthcare workers are among the first to be directly exposed to patients with symptoms of Covid-19.
“A number of GPs and their staff have been infected with Covid-19 from exposure to patients with these symptoms who were later found to be Covid-19 positive.
“Some clinics had to shut down for 14 days as a result because the GP and their staff had to be quarantined,” he said in a statement.
The National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme will be implemented in three phases starting Feb 24, with Phase 1 from Feb to April 2021 involving 500,000 frontliners.
Phase 2, from April to August, will involve senior citizens aged 65 and above, high-risk groups and the disabled – about 9.4 million people – while Phase 3 from May this year to February 2022 will cover Malaysians and non-citizens aged 18 and above, targeting more than 13.7 million people.
MMA said the special committee on Covid-19 vaccine supply should review its classification of frontliners to include GPs, staff at private specialist clinics and dentists in Category 1 instead of Category 2.
“Placing GPs in Category 2 of the guidelines under the Covid-19 NIP (national immunisation programme) shows they are not being recognised as an integral part of the mainstream healthcare system and will only delay efforts to bring the pandemic under control,” Subramaniam said.
He added that dentists and their staff are also exposed to risk of Covid-19 as patients need to remove their face masks in order to be examined and treated.
He said including these frontliners in Category 1 would be in line with the World Health Organization’s call to accelerate vaccine equity for all healthcare workers.