Focus on high-risk groups


PETALING JAYA: From next month, Malaysia will be offering third doses or booster shots to vulnerable groups, including healthcare frontliners and the elderly living with comorbidities. This, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, would help increase their immunity against the Covid-19 virus.

Administration of the booster shots will begin once the Covid-19 mass immunisation covers 80% of the adult population in the country, a target expected to be achieved in the days ahead.

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As of Saturday, 78.2% of the adult population had completed their vaccination.

“The third dose will be prioritised for high-risk groups such as healthcare frontliners, immunocompromised patients, the elderly with comorbidities as well as those staying and working at long-term care facilities.

“This third dose can increase the level of immunity in individuals who are at high risk of getting infected with Covid-19 as the immunity may wane after a certain period following the second dose,” said Ismail Sabri in a statement yesterday.A panel of healthcare and medical experts, he added, were currently developing guidelines on the implementation of the booster shot programme.

In Alor Setar, Bernama reported Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin as saying that he had set early next month as the target for the administration of the booster shots for high-risk groups such as those mentioned by the Prime Minister.

“We will prioritise them first and after that, we will open to others. We may be able to implement this in early October for the first group, God willing,” he said after visiting Hospital Sultanah Bahiyah yesterday.

Reassuring the public that the booster jabs did not mean that their first two doses were ineffective, he said many countries were already implementing a similar policy.

“Does this third dose mean that the first two are not effective? No, (it’s) not like that.

“Many nations have begun giving booster shots, including the United States, Britain and Singapore. This (booster shot) is to further increase our immune system against Covid-19,” he said.

He said the initiative was crucial as the Health Ministry’s data indicated that this vulnerable group of people made up most of the death numbers as well as those admitted to hospitals as Category 5 patients.

The government, he added, had not decided when the booster shot could be administered nationwide.

“The matter is still being deliberated by ministry experts,” he said, pointing out that in the United States, for example, it was decided that booster shots be given to only those aged 65 and above.

“Every nation has a different policy. We will start with the high-risk group that I mentioned earlier.”

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