The Ministry of Health (MOH) has announced that the National Immunisation Programme has started administering booster doses for high-risk groups. The COVID-19 booster shots will be given to senior citizens aged 60 years old and above, as well as frontline workers.
The booster shot will be administered to eligible individuals at least 6 months after completing their COVID-19 vaccination. Eligible individuals will be informed via MySejahtera. For users without the app, they will be notified via SMS or phone call from the respective vaccination centre.
The booster shots are also administered for free under the National Immunisation Programme and it is aimed at prolonging optimal protection against the coronavirus. According to MOH, boosters are necessary as the protection levels may decline due to waning immunity.
MOH added that the administration of COVID-19 vaccine booster dose will be led by private clinics (GPs) under ProtectHealth Corporation Sdn Bhd. Senior citizens (60 years old and above) can get their booster jabs at private clinics while government health facilities will be focused on providing booster doses for their healthcare workers. Meanwhile, Malaysia armed forces healthcare facilities will administer booster doses for their own frontliners.
At the moment, Pfizer (Comirnaty) is currently the only vaccine that has been given conditional approval for booster shots in Malaysia. Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin recently said Malaysia has approved mix-and-match vaccines for boosters and the Ministry will be conducting a study for heterologous vaccination starting in Sarawak in November 2021. The mix-and-match vaccination will eventually be extended to more states after approval from the Medical Review & Ethics Committee (MREC).
What is the difference between the booster and third dose?
While “booster” and “third-dose” may sound similar and often used interchangeably, they are actually different. Boosters are administered to fully vaccinated individuals who have gotten sufficient protection earlier but the protection levels may wane over time. Boosters are currently authorised to be administered for adults 6 months after receiving their second dose.
Meanwhile, the third-dose is defined as additional doses for people who are immunocompromised as they didn’t have sufficient immune response after receiving two doses of the vaccine. This includes cancer patients, organ recipients, kidney patients who require dialysis and individuals who can’t get enough protection from the standard two-dose vaccination. The third dose will be administered at least 28 days after receiving the second dose.
The Ministry of Health has assured that Malaysia’s COVID-19 vaccine supply is sufficient to administer the booster and third doses. Eligible individuals are urged to come forward to get their extra doses to get optimal protection against COVID-19 infection.
As of 13th October, Malaysia has administered over 46 million vaccine doses. 75.4% of the population have received at least one dose while 66.6% of the population have completed their vaccination with either a single or two dose vaccine. 90.9% of adults in Malaysia have completed their vaccination and all states in Malaysia except for Sabah have lifted interstate travel restrictions.
Malaysia is currently seeing a decline in new daily cases, hospitalisation and deaths over the past few weeks. The country has recorded less than 10,000 cases a day since 3rd October 2021 and the current positivity rate from COVID-19 tests conducted is at 6.6%.
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