GEORGE TOWN, Nov 30 ― The Sinovac and AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines will be available in Penang as booster doses from tomorrow, state executive councillor Norlela Ariffin told the state legislative assembly today.

The Penang lawmaker said the federal government has already approved offering these two additional vaccines as booster doses alongside Pfizer.

“We have over 200,000 Sinovac doses that are open to those who don't want to take the Pfizer vaccine as the booster dose starting from December,” she replied to Bukit Tengah assemblyman from PKR Gooi Hsiao-Leung.

Norlela said as at November 29, a total 84,541 individuals in Penang have received their booster shots, which is still considered low.

“We are still the bottom five states in terms of people being given the booster dose as compared to other states like Sarawak, Klang Valley, Johor and Negri Sembilan,” she said.

She said that as of November 24, only 86 private clinics, eight private hospitals and three offsite Covid-19 vaccination centres (PPV) in the state are offering vaccination that included booster doses, first doses for those who are yet to get vaccinated and for those who missed their second dose.

She said the booster dose is open to all those who are above 40 years of age and those with comorbidities.

She said one of the reasons for the slow take-up of the booster dose was that many individuals preferred Sinovac.

“Yesterday, at the Tapak Expo Seberang Jaya PPV, 500 people who went for booster doses left because they wanted Sinovac but we were only offering Pfizer as booster doses,” she said.

Another reason was that there are limited spaces in the private clinics as each clinic can only vaccinate 20 to 30 individuals per day.

“I have discussed with Protect Health and the only way to increase the take up of booster dose is to open up more community halls as offsite PPV so that we can increase the capacity,” she said.

She urged all assemblymen to identify community halls in their constituencies that can be converted into offsite PPV to dispense booster doses in collaboration with Protect Health.

Norlela said a mechanism to inform vaccine recipients of the type of booster dose they will be getting at the respective PPVs will be made soon, when asked by Machang Bubuk rep Lee Khai Loon.