Prioritizing medical students for Covid-19 vaccination – SMMAMS
Phase two of the National Covid-19 Vaccination Program (PICK) began on April 19, 2021, with priority group one covering the remaining health workers and those in essential services, while priority group two covering the elderly, high-risk groups with chronic diseases. diseases and people with disabilities.
Clearly missing mentions of medical students who participate in service duties and come into direct contact with patients alongside physicians on a daily basis.
The Society of Malaysian Medical Association Medical Students (SMMAMS) is urging authorities to consider including medical students in phase two of PICK. We are grateful to medical schools that have either included medical students in their vaccination plans or attempted to have their students vaccinated. We also recognize the difficulties faced by other medical schools in getting their students vaccinated.
Medical students can become a protective buffer in the clinical setting with the completion of phase one and the start of phase two. Medical students should be seen as part of the medical team; taking a history, physical examinations and assistance with procedures in clinics and wards are an integral and essential part of their education.
However, they are left behind, living with the constant fear and angst of contracting and spreading the disease to already vulnerable patients.
The unprecedented times brought on by the pandemic have had a profound impact on medical education. Medicine, as a profession, requires hands-on learning and education at the bedside to acquire skills that cannot be acquired through online learning.
This has been severely compromised by the restrictions brought about by the pandemic. Medical students face issues such as inadequate clinical exposure, inability to complete graduation requirements, and postponement of studies leading to financial and psychological stress.
These would result in a reduction in skills when they finally joined the health workforce.
Therefore, SMMAMS calls on the National Covid-19 Immunization Task Force to:
- Prioritize Covid-19 vaccination for all medical students in Malaysia who actively participate in clinical tasks after vaccination of all healthcare workers.
- Factoring in the additional allocation of Covid-19 vaccines for medical students in the distribution for hospitals and universities across Malaysia.
Faculties of medicine and higher education institutions should:
- Support and advocate on behalf of their medical students to be prioritized in the Covid-19 vaccination, after healthcare workers and clinical teachers.
- Recognize the potential risks faced by unvaccinated medical students and recognize the delay in immunizing medical students as a potential cause of decreased clinical skills.
Elected Members of Parliament and Cabinet Ministers should:
- Serve as a spokesperson for medical students to raise concerns about the risks to students when participating in clinical tasks.
- Understand and recognize that the vaccination of medical students must be prioritized to reduce the risk of transmission of Covid-19.
- Actively participate in open speeches with medical students to better understand their learning conditions.
Medical students are the healthcare workers of tomorrow. This is recognized by other countries like Hong Kong and the Philippines, where medical students are included in the vaccination plan with the first ones.
Ensuring the safety of medical students is imperative in order to safeguard the future of our health care system.
SMMAMS is the Society of Medical Students of the Malaysian Medical Association.
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Blue code.