KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 21): The Ministry of Health (MoH) has decided to administer Covid-19 vaccine booster shots to individuals who have completed two-dose vaccinations of Sinovac (pictured) vaccine at least three months ago.

According to Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, these Sinovac recipients will be given heterologous booster shots of Pfizer’s Comirnaty vaccine in stages from Oct 22.

“As a start, these heterologous booster shots will be administered to persons over 60 years and above based on the recommendations of the World Health Organization's Strategic Advisory Expert Group on Immunisation (SAGE), which convened on Oct 4 to Oct 7,” Khairy told a media briefing on Thursday.

According to him, the administration of the booster shots will be done by private doctors under the coordination of MoH's unit ProtectHealth Corp Sdn Bhd.

“Eligible individuals will be notified via the MySejahtera application and via SMS to a registered phone number if they do not have MySejahtera. Dates for booster vaccinations will be improved over time and in the near future. The Ministry is currently developing a system through which those who are vaccinated can make an appointment.

“The administration of this heterologous booster shots is in terms of off-label use and was used as a part of the study (subgroup) in the Real World Evaluation of Covid-19 Vaccination (RECoVaM) and Serious Adverse Effects After Vaccination (SAFECOVAC) studies, which is for all recipients of the booster dose,” Khairy noted.

He added, his Ministry is committed to ensure that every individual is eligible to receive a booster vaccination shot to achieve optimal protection against Covid-19 infection.

The rollout of booster vaccination shots was initiated nationwide on Oct 13 with Pfizer’s Comirnaty vaccine.

“Currently, a booster dose is administered to individuals vaccinated with the Comirnaty vaccine at least six months ago, with priority given to first-line (health and safety) members, seniors 60 years of age and older, and individuals with comorbidities. As of Oct 19, a total of 47,728 individuals have received booster shots,” said the minister.

The booster vaccination is administered voluntarily and free of charge as part of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK).

When asked if there is a likelihood that booster shots will be given annually, Khairy said: ”As for now, MoH will review the data from time to time before Covid-19 vaccinations [are] made as annual immunisation. This will depend particularly on the effectiveness and safety profiles of the vaccines”.

To date, 25,285,399 individuals or 77.4% of Malaysia’s total population have received their first dose of vaccine, including 23,265,448 individuals or 71.2% who are fully inoculated.

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