PETALING JAYA: Even the young with chronic diseases, transplant patients and those undergoing chemotherapy for active cancer should be prioritised for Covid-19 vaccine booster shots, say health experts.
Cardiologist and Malaysian Healthy Ageing Society exco member Dr Wong Teck Wee said while the targeted groups for the booster shots were good, the government should consider anyone with a chronic disease, regardless of their age.
“The government’s recommendation of giving the third dose to vulnerable groups is correct because for those who are healthy, we’re not sure how the booster shots will benefit them.
“So far, no sufficient research has been done (on these booster shots). So, the next best thing is to base the decision on opinion. Infectious disease doctors are the best people to consult on this matter.
“They say booster doses shouldn’t be given to young and healthy people who do not have chronic diseases. It should be needs-based.
“For example, if someone is 69 years old and healthy, there is no need to give them the booster dose as there is no proof that it can help them.
“The third dose should be given to those with comorbidities and not based on their age, meaning that even young patients with chronic diseases should be prioritised,” added Dr Wong.
Examples of the vulnerable include transplant patients, those undergoing chemotherapy for active cancer or have underlying medical conditions such as heart failure, liver cirrhosis and stroke.
“These patients will potentially benefit from a third dose,” he said.
Operators of old folks’ homes are hoping that the Health Ministry will send personnel to all long-term care facilities to administer the booster shots to their aged residents.
Welcoming the news of the booster jabs, Association for Residential Aged Care Operators (AgeCope) president Delren Terrence Douglas said this should also cover unlicensed premises, adding that only 400 out of the over 1,000 care homes nationwide had permits.
“It would also help if the government gave clearer guidelines and warnings to care workers on what to look out for in the elderly after a booster shot is given,” he added.
He said previously, they were not warned that the elderly would still be susceptible to Covid-19 two weeks after their vaccination and as a result, many of the elderly got infected days after their vaccination.
“Many fell sick or got infected with the virus after getting their doses as we allowed them to go out for hospital check-ups. We were not told to take extra precautions.
“Now, we are much more aware of what could happen after vaccination. We would welcome it if the government could send personnel to the centres to offer third doses to the elderly,” Douglas added.
Malaysian Medical Association president Dr Koh Kar Chai said it agreed with the move to prioritise healthcare professionals, the elderly and those with comorbidities, adding that it looked forward to engaging with the Health Ministry on how private general practitioners could also be involved.