Booster shots: “Clear the air, many private GPs are still in the dark”, says Pakatan

THE Pakatan Harapan Health Committee urged Putrajaya to coordinate the rollout of a third COVID-19 dose of vaccinations and booster shots effectively, as many private general practitioners (GP) are still in the dark on the matter.

“The rollout needs to be properly planned, specific and well-coordinated among all stakeholders, including the private GPs, who are tasked to handle booster shots for frontliners and senior citizens,” it said in a statement.

Three days ago, the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) said that private GPs were still clueless about their participation on the COVID-19 third doses and booster shots programme.

Its president Dr Koh Kar Chai added that the planning for the programme has been passed down to the state health department to manage but claimed the latter have yet to engage them.

“There has been no planning and no coordination on the ground, at least not that we know of.

“We just hope that all the GP clinics which had functioned as vaccination centres (PPV) will be allowed to participate, not only a select few where the selection criteria are not made clear to the doctors,” Koh was reported saying by The Malaysian Reserve.

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

Echoing MMA’s concerns, the Pakatan committee said such vagueness should not occur, adding the Health Ministry (MOH) should have learned from past mistakes on handling vaccination programme involving private GPs.

Therefore, the Opposition lawmakers urged the MOH to do as follows;

  • Detail a clear timeline for the programme’s implementation across the country.
  • Provide a clear definition and categories of those eligible for the third dose and booster shots.
  • Develop a strategic effort to educate those eligible on the importance of getting additional dose and to ensure they are not left out in this exercise.
  • Engage the private GPS as soon as possible and set out a clear rollout strategy to ensure efficiency and speed in the exercise.
  • Approving heterologous vaccination with the booster doses as soon as possible, based on real world data from across the world.

Approve heterologous vaccination

Touching on heterologous vaccination with the booster, the Pakatan committee urged the MOH and the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) to approve it as soon as possible.

Heterologous vaccination are regimes where a second, booster vaccination takes place with a different type of vaccine than the first vaccination.

“Clinical development shows promising results, including studies that have been carried out in Germany, Spain, Taiwan, Sweden and the UK on the ‘Effects of Heterologous Immunisation with Prime-Boost COVID-19 Vaccination against SARS-CoV-2’.

“It has shown positive results including increased levels of neutralising antibodies in comparison to homologous vaccination. Moreover, a heterologous prime-boost regimen with an adenovirus vector vaccine also improved Th1-biased T cell responses,” they stated.

The committee remarked: “We reiterate our call for a clear and comprehensive strategy based on science and data to give greater protection and help induce greater immunity response to protect our high-risk groups, especially in view of their waning neutralising antibodies with time.” – Oct 18, 2021

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