Sri Lanka Medical Association SLMA Intercollegiate Committee writes to Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi over prioritizing COVID19 Vaccination to high-risk groups. According to the data, it indicate that 73% of Covid19 deaths occur in people over 60 years of age. SLMA appeal to Minister to consider allocating at least 40% of the currently available vaccines to over 60 years age of group as it likely to bring down deaths significantly.

Sri Lanka Medical Association SLMA Intercollegiate Committee Full Letter – As you are aware, recent data released by the Information Department of the Ministry of Health and data available from the rest of the world, indicate that 73% of Covid 19 deaths occur in people over 60 years of age and 84% of deaths were in people with co-morbidities; mainly diabetes (54%) and hypertension (51%) followed by Ischaemic Heart Disease, Chronic Kidney Disease, Bronchial Asthma, Stroke, Cancers and immune compromised states.

Research findings have clearly demonstrated that vaccination reduces deaths and complications in patients with COVID-19. Research evidence does not support benefits of vaccination to reduce transmission of infection unless a large majority of the population is vaccinated to achieve “herd immunity”. As such, there is clear and compelling evidence to support prioritization of vaccination for older adults over 60 years of age and patients with comorbidities in the age group of 30 – 60 years.

All patients with co-morbidities are hospital patients attending for long term medications. In a context where there is limited supply of vaccines, the SLMA and the Intercollegiate Committee is of the view that a programme to urgently vaccinate patients with co-morbidities who attend hospital clinics would greatly help to reduce the rapidly increasing death rate due to Covid-19, until the effects of mass vaccination sets in. This would be a ‘best buy’ under the current circumstances, Individual hospitals can implement this very quickly, efficiently and without any room for malpractices as the patients are already registered with relevant clinics and carry books and cards. Their identity can be verified with the NIC and other acceptable forms of identification.

This facility would be needed for many clinics that include Medical, Diabetes, Maternity, Cardiology, Pulmonology, Renal, Neurology, Oncology, Psychiatry, HIV Clinics and many more. As the problem of COVID-19 appears to last for a longer period, this facility would be the best to establish an ongoing programme of vaccination for patients with co-morbidities.

We earnestly appeal to you to consider allocating at least 40% of the currently available vaccines to this group while considering vaccinating people over 60 years in the community Scientifically, these two manoeuvres, if speedily implemented, are likely to bring down deaths following COVID infection in Sri Lanka significantly. We would appreciate your serious consideration for this proposal which we believe would have a great impact in reducing the number of Covid-19 deaths in the near future. Thanking you in advance, for your urgent consideration of these suggestions.