Only 2,467 general practitioners (GPs) have applied to be involved in the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme, says coordinating minister Khairy Jamaluddin.
He said although there were about 7,000 GPs in the country, not all were able to participate in the vaccination programme as some did not meet the requirements or were not able to provide special refrigerators for the storage of Covid-19 vaccines.
In a joint press conference on the development of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme with Health Minister Dr Adham Baba today, Khairy said of the 2,467 who applied, 1,482 had been given letters of appointment to administer Covid-19 vaccine shots.
“We have to give them (the GPs) basic training for storage and for administering the vaccine, which is slightly different as it uses a special syringe. Training is required for the vaccination. The GPs may say that vaccinations are routine for them but this is the Covid-19 vaccination and it is different,” he said.
“We want more GPs to join in, but we have to understand that not all GPs are presently ready with the cold storage for the vaccine,” he added.
Meanwhile, Khairy said the state health departments and district health offices were given the freedom to implement any initiatives to increase vaccination rates, as well as to overcome the problem of absenteeism at vaccination centres (PPVs).
Among the initiatives that can be implemented is moving vaccine mobile units to residences to provide injections to the community, as implemented by the Terengganu health department, he said.
Asked whether a compound would be imposed on those who failed to attend their appointments at PPVs, Khairy said for now, he would continue with the approach of contacting individuals given an appointment and encouraging them to attend and receive the Covid-19 vaccine. He said imposing a compound would only be a last resort.
He also advised the public to check their addresses when registering to receive the Covid-19 vaccine injection through the MySejahtera application, to avoid being given an appointment far from their place of residence.
He said there had been cases of vaccine recipients being given appointments in other states due to a failure to check back after providing residential details.
Adham meanwhile said the health ministry had received several reports on harmful effects of the Covid-19 vaccine, which would be evaluated by three committees: the Special Pharmacovigilance Committee for Covid-19 Vaccine Monitoring; the Medical Technical Committee; and the Special Financial Assistance Steering Committee for Covid-19 Vaccine Exigencies.
“The decision on the claim of the National Vaccination Exigencies Fund will be announced in the near future,” he said.