Pfizer, AZ booster shots can be given at least three months after second dose, says Khairy

PETALING JAYA: Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccine booster shots can be given at least three months after the second dose, says Khairy Jamaluddin (pic).

The Health Minister made the announcement on the shorter interval for Covid-19 booster shots during a press conference on Tuesday (Dec 28).

The move to shorten the interval is similar to measures taken by other countries such as Germany and Australia, which are recommending shorter booster intervals in an attempt to stop the spread of new variants.

Khairy added that following the discovery of a confirmed Omicron case in a man in Sarawak who has no history of recent travel abroad, it is very likely that Omicron is now in the community.

He said recent data showed that Omicron variants could cause increased transmission of infection, higher viral binding affinity and higher antibody escape than vaccine-induced immunity or natural infections.

"Strong evidence accumulated over the past three weeks indicate that a Covid-19 booster vaccine is possible to increase protection against Omicron variant infections.

"Results initially involving 21 million booster doses administered in the United Kingdom have shown very convincing security data.

"In line with that, regulatory bodies such as in the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, as well as a panel of health experts are now recommending an interval for booster dose vaccination can be given as early as three months after receiving the primer vaccine," he said at a press conference on Tuesday (Dec 28).

Khairy added that the technical working group has also evaluated the existing evidence and provided new recommendations on the administration of Covid-19 booster doses.

"All seniors aged 60 and above and all adults who have received both doses of their vaccines (Pfizer, AZ and CoronaVac) are highly recommended to receive their booster vaccine at least three months after receiving the primary vaccine.

"Individuals with comorbidities, residents and staff at health care centres will be given priority to receive the booster shots.

"We will be using the age de-escalation approach for those who are 18 years old and above and have received two doses of their jabs, starting from 50 years and above, 40 years and above, and subsequently 18 years and above.

"Adults will receive their booster shots in January and February next year and we will increase the capacity by opening more PPV and private clinics," he said, adding that Sinovac booster shots would only be given to those who were contraindicated against Pfizer or AZ.

Furthermore, Khairy said the government would lift the temporary travel restrictions to eight countries namely South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

"We will shift them from total ban to high risk countries.

"However, we urge people to avoid any unnecessary travel to the high risk countries, as the Omicron situation in these countries are dangerous," he said.

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