Decision on Covid-19 booster shots later today, but minister says likely to allow walk-ins

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin delivers a speech at the Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur November 16, 2021. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin delivers a speech at the Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur November 16, 2021. — Picture by Hari Anggara

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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 16 — The Health Ministry is expected to make a decision later today on whether or not to allow walk-ins as an option for Covid-19 booster shots.

However, its minister Khairy Jamaluddin told reporters that the likelihood for walk-ins is high.

“This evening I will chair the CITF meeting and we will make a decision regarding walk-in facilities for booster shot recipients,” he told reporters after launching an event promoting Malaysia as a destination for Hepatitis C treatment here. 

The CITF refers to the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force.

Khairy had been asked how the government plans to address the high number of people, about 40 per cent, who failed to turn up for their booster shots after being notified about it through the MySejahtera phone app. 

The minister was also asked to respond to claims that some booster shot recipients were turned away from vaccination centres (PPVs).

He explained that the booster shots are given based on the length of the interval period from their last jab.

Those who had received the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine previously are advised to wait six months before getting their booster shot while those who got Sinovac will get their booster dose after three months.

Khairy explained that recipients could get the booster dose if they were a few days early, but not if it was a whole month.

“We have instructed the PPVs to administer the boosters if the recipient is only a few days short of the interval period.  

“[But] not if they are months or even weeks short. But if they are days short we have asked them to exercise discretion,” he said.  

“So if you’re one month short, then we will not give it, but we will ask for you to wait for your appointment to be sent via MySejahtera or an SMS message,” he added.

Khairy also gave an assurance that the government has enough stock of vaccines to dispense booster doses to every single adult in this country. 

“So what we have set aside now is enough to vaccinate people who have not been vaccinated as well as people who are going to require the booster doses,” he said. 

He said that to date, 98 per cent of adults in the country have received their first dose. 

“The question if when we will be fully vaccinated really should be addressed at anti-vaxxers because they will determine whether we will be fully vaccinated or not. 

“Those who are willing to be vaccinated I’m sure everyone has been vaccinated already so I think the target will depend on people who refuse to be vaccinated and at the moment on paper that’s about 2 per cent of the population,” he said.  

He also stressed that his ministry will continue outreach programmes especially for those who may have missed out on the vaccine like undocumented migrants and refugee communities. 

“Perhaps when we open for walk-in for the boosters, we may allow for people who are unvaccinated to also walk in. 

“That is the decision that I will be making this afternoon,” he said.

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