KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 21 — The government has been urged to include some 8,000 private general practitioners (GP) nationwide for the final stretch towards achieving herd immunity in the ongoing National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NIP).

In a statement, Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) Datuk Dr Subramaniam Muniandy noted that over 50 per cent of the country’s adult population have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, and thus, was a reasonable proposition.

Now that vaccination rates have gone up, Dr Subramaniam said mega vaccination centres should be gradually phased out and allow GPs to run the final lap of the NIP while the government could shift its resources towards strengthening public healthcare facilities.

“Most people find it more convenient to go to a private GP for their vaccinations as the private clinics are close to the community and are not crowded.

“It is also the preferred choice of the people because of the personalised service,” he said in a statement here.

However, Dr Subramaniam said the association was puzzled as to why the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) had abruptly decided to halt vaccination appointments at 741 private GP clinics, several private hospitals and ambulatory care centres in the Klang Valley.

He pointed out that the affected healthcare facilities were given 48-hour notices by CITF to cease vaccination administrations.

“CITF should instead be encouraging more GPs to participate. There are 741 private clinics in the Klang Valley participating in the immunisation programme (250 in KL and 491 in Selangor).

“Such policies in dumping GPs suddenly when not needed will not augur well and (will) discourage other GPs from participating,” he said of the exclusion.

Dr Subramaniam said participating GPs were informed by the CITF through a circular issued by ProtectHealth Corporation Sdn Bhd — an incorporated entity formed under the Health Ministry — that private vaccinations will be disallowed under the NIP.

In the circular attached, ProtectHealth said the Operation Surge Capacity implemented from July 23 to August 1 had achieved its intended objective of administering at least one dose of vaccine to all registered adults in the Klang Valley.

CITF then said a decision was made and no further vaccination appointments will be given from August 23 onwards.

“No reason has been given however we do believe it has to do with the coding system for the vaccines — a minor issue we believe can be easily resolved as both the vaccines under the NIP and private vaccines will have a separate code,” he said.

Moving forward, Dr Subramaniam said it was hopeful that further engagements could be held with the CITF as vaccinations for adolescents aged 12-17 were only three weeks away.

“If the GPs are going to be roped in as the Health DG had indicated, it needs to be planned now likewise the booster shots that will be required in a few months,” he said.