Khairy targets early Oct roll-out of Covid-19 booster shots for frontliners, vulnerable groups

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin speaks at a press conference in Putrajaya, September 1, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin speaks at a press conference in Putrajaya, September 1, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

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KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 19 — Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin announced today that he has set early October as the target for the administration Covid-19 vaccine booster shot for high-risk groups.

During the Kedah Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) press conference, Khairy listed those who fall into the category: the elderly with comorbidities, frontliners with health issues or at high-risk, those with poor immune systems and workers at old folks homes.

“We will prioritise them first and after that, we will open to others. This, we may be able to execute in early October for this first group, God willing,” he said.

“So for those who may ask; does this third dose mean that the first two is not effective? No, not like that. Many nations have begun giving booster shots, including in the US, the United Kingdom and Singapore and this is to further increase our immune system against Covid-19.”

During the press conference, Khairy said the initiative is crucial since MOH’s data showed that these are those who made up most of the death numbers and were admitted to hospitals as Category 5 patients.

Khairy said the government has not decided when the booster shot will be administered nationwide, and the matter is still being deliberated by the MOH’s experts.

He explained that different nations have different policies on the matter, pointing to the US which has announced to have the booster shot administered to those who are 65 years old and above.

“So every nation has differing policies. So we will start with the high-risk group that I mentioned earlier,” he added.

Khairy said that the MOH is now gathering information from vaccine manufacturers to be registered under the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA), adding that the booster shot needs the agency’s evaluation and approval.

“The third dose needs to receive NPRA’s approval because NPRA only gives approval for say: Pfizer is only two doses, AstraZeneca is only two doses, Sinovac two doses,” he said.

He also said he expects approvals to be given in a week or two before making an official announcement on the type of vaccine which requires booster shots and if mix-and-match of vaccines are allowed, alongside other details.

Earlier, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced that the Malaysian government has agreed to the administration of Covid-19 booster shots for high-risk groups after 80 per cent of the country’s population have been fully vaccinated.

A booster shot is an additional dose of a vaccine given after the protection provided by the original shot(s) has begun to decrease over time. The booster is designed to help people maintain their level of immunity for longer.

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