Vaccination: Excluding community pharmacists from first phase disheartening

THE Malaysian Pharmacists Society (MPS) said they were upset that community pharmacists have not been included in the first phase of the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme.

“This is very disappointing as we cannot ignore the contribution of our community pharmacists at their respective localities.

“As we all know, community pharmacists played an essential role when COVID-19 ravaged the entire globe as they provided medical supplies to the people,” its president Amrahi Buang told FocusM.

On Jan 11, Amrahi urged the Government to categorise community pharmacists as frontliners and be prioritised to receive the COVID-19 vaccines when it arrives soon.

With roughly 5,000 community pharmacists serving the nation as frontliners in disease prevention, he urged the authorities to consider administering the COVID-19 vaccine to all community pharmacists.

“This is particularly important as community pharmacists are facing the public every day, both healthy and ill, and are at high risk of contracting COVID-19,” Amrahi said.

Frustrated by the recent decision, Amrahi added that community pharmacists have put their own safety on the line during the pandemic, risking themselves to ensure the people at their locality continued to receive uninterrupted medical supplies and devices during movement control order (MCO).

He also noted that community pharmacists continued with their duty despite rising community spread of COVID-19, attending to customers’ needs whether the latter showed virus symptoms or otherwise.

“Considering the risks they face, we urged the Government to categorise them as frontliners,” Amrahi stated.

Gov’t oblivious of other nations’ vaccination programmes

The decision by the COVID-19 Vaccine Supply Access Special Committee (JKJAV) to not inoculate community pharmacists under the first phase, he opined, seems to show that policy makers are not taking a leaf from the vaccination programmes of other nations.

“Counties like the US, New Zealand, Australia and Canada have roped in community pharmacists to help in the vaccination programmes.

“Recently, the Philippines allowed their community pharmacists to inoculate their citizens under their national vaccination programme,” Amrahi added.

Amrahi said that his team have sent several letters to the Government, particularly the COVID-19 Immunisation Coordination Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin in regards to the matter.

However, when the final list was approved on March 1, community pharmacists were excluded from the first phase of inoculation, much to the chagrin of MPS.

“I hope JKJAV policy makers would reconsider their decision and list community pharmacists as frontliners under the first phase,” Amrahi stressed. – March 6, 2021.

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