History-Making As Malaysian Pharmacists Can Now Administer Covid-19 Vaccination
World Immunization Week: Long Life for All
Pharmacists in Malaysia were successfully included as Covid-19 vaccinators to help ramp up the inoculation rate in Malaysia from February 2022 onwards.
Prior to this, vaccination has always been conducted by doctors and nurses only. Hence, it is truly a breakthrough for pharmacists to be given the green light to vaccinate.
Other countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States had allowed their community pharmacists to administer flu vaccination for about two decades.
Pharmacists play an important role in preventive healthcare and vaccination is part of it. Previously, pharmacists were only involved in supplying and advocating the importance of vaccinations.
They were also trained to manage the cold-chain storage, identify and manage vaccine-related adverse events.
‘Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures’
This Covid-19 pandemic has been ongoing globally for almost three years with seemingly no end to this battle. Malaysia’s healthcare system was overburdened, so this prompted community pharmacists to take the step of faith and boldness offering their help to the Malaysian government.
The Malaysian Community Pharmacy Guild (MCPG) representing community pharmacists then suggested to the Ministry of Health (MOH) to engage pharmacists to help vaccinate to expedite the National Immunisation Programme.
The MOH responded swiftly and expressed its appreciation for MCPG’s initiative, requiring us to submit a list of trained pharmacist vaccinators.
The MCPG Vaccination Training Programme (VTP) organising committee partnered with the University of Nottingham Malaysia, St. John Ambulance and is grateful for the support from companies such as Medicos, BP Healthcare, Doctor2U, Sanofi Pasteur, KLK Oleo, Hartalega, Bayer and others.
The VTP comprises four modules, equipping pharmacists with theoretical knowledge, practical assessment and clinical attachment at certified premises.
Upon completion of the programme, pharmacists vaccinators would master vaccine administration, vaccine reconstitution and storage, injection techniques, pre-and post-vaccination counselling and basic life support.
Finally, on February 11, the MOH accepted the list of a few hundred pharmacist vaccinators who completed the training and approved this group to start vaccinating with immediate effect.
Following this development, MCPG later received overwhelming enquiries and responses pushing for us to organise VTP 2.0.
These were applications made by other community pharmacists, government pharmacists and pre-registration pharmacists who had missed out on the first VTP.
MCPG has re-launched VTP 2.0 whereby the training will be ongoing from April to May 2022.
Though the pharmacists in the private sector were the trailblazer on this, it has also aroused interest among those in the government sector, proving that pharmacists are eager to pursue added skills.
Presently, the country is witnessing an all-time high number of daily Covid-19 cases. And pharmacists are willing to put their hands to the plough to ease rescue efforts, even if it means taking a heavier role during the unprecedented time.
After the pharmacist vaccinators solution has been put forward, MCPG is now looking at and working on other ways pharmacists can create better partnerships and stand in the gap to strengthen the existing healthcare system.
As the main agenda was achieved, we also felt a sense of accomplishment in the advancement of trust and recognition towards pharmacists as healthcare professionals.
We believed that the time of adversity had shone a light on pharmacists being multi-talented and multi-skilled that could activate in the purpose of saving lives.
MCPG will continue to work collaboratively with all the stakeholders to fight this Covid-19 pandemic together.
Lovy Beh is the current and third-term president of the Malaysian Community Pharmacy Guild that represents a quarter of 19, 000 pharmacists in Malaysia. She is a registered pharmacist in the United Kingdom, Singapore and Malaysia.
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