Second booster drive needs a boost


PETALING JAYA: While some people are wary about getting their second Covid-19 vaccination booster, citing potential side effects, others have already lined up appointments for their fourth jab in total.

Event manager JT Lim, 55, opted for his second booster as soon as the option was made available on the MySejahtera app.

“My job requires me to meet new people every day. Having the second booster gives me more peace of mind in case I contract Covid-19,” said the father of two who has been infected with the disease twice.

Content moderator Muhd Faizal, 36, said he already has an appointment for the second booster and was due to receive it next week.

“I am a diabetic and my physician recommended I get the second booster when possible. At least I know if I contract Covid-19, my body will be better prepared to handle it,” he said.

Carmen Goh, 31, said there should be more clarity on whether healthy individuals were required to take the second booster shot.

“I am curious whether a person who is not high risk can take the second booster.

“If yes, I would love to do so. Right now, I am not sure how to get the booster.

“Maybe more clarity will help,” said the analyst from Penang.

However, self-employed D. Chandran, 50, was adamant against receiving the second booster dose, saying he experienced severe allergic reactions when he took his first booster.

“It was a three-month ordeal as I had multiple negative reactions. I am a vegetarian, but consuming vegetables gave me allergic reactions (after the first booster).

“Even taking paracetamol caused my eyes to swell and tear, and I had rashes all over my body,” he said, adding that multiple trips to the clinic didn’t solve the issue.

“It was only when I sought treatment from an authorised alternative treatment practitioner that things improved,” he said.

Similarly, analyst S. Wong said his first booster shot left him feverish and lethargic for slightly more than a week.

“I’m not sure if I want to get the second booster as the side effects really impaired my productivity.

“It was challenging as I had to juggle between work and looking after my newborn,” he said.

Experts recommend that those in high-risk groups, like the elderly and those with comorbidities, take the booster dose.

“Those in such groups also have a higher risk of developing severe symptoms, such as pneumonia, if they contract Covid-19,” said Malaysian Society of Infectious Diseases and Chemotherapy president Prof Dr Zamberi Sekawi.

The consultant clinical microbiologist at Universiti Putra Malaysia said it would also be an uphill task to encourage the public to receive their second booster doses, citing the low take-up rates.

“Current awareness towards Covid-19 is lower compared with before, which could lead to a lack of urgency among the public to receive boosters.

“Medical practitioners should play a part in encouraging those from high-risk groups to receive boosters as an added layer of protection against severe Covid-19 symptoms,” he said, adding that the general public should also get boosted as a precaution.

Prof Zamberi added that a fear of side effects was another possible reason for the lower take-up rates.

“The issue of messages linking deteriorating health conditions to booster dose, which is in fact not scientifically proven, also creates hesitance,” he said.

Malaysian Society of Geriatric Medicine president Prof Dr Tan Maw Pin said the elderly should consider getting the booster as the potential side effects are likely to be less risky than getting severe Covid-19 symptoms.

“Booster shots push one’s immunity back up, providing better protection against the virus.

“The risk of being hospitalised or even succumbing to the virus is also reduced,” said Prof Tan, who is a consultant geriatrician at the Universiti Malaya Medical Centre.

Among the side effects commonly experienced by the elderly after receiving their vaccines were being feverish, unwell or experiencing slight inflammation at the injection site.

“This usually subsides after several days,” said Prof Tan.

She also advised the elderly, those from high-risk groups, as well as those working in healthcare, to get their booster shots as an added layer of protection.

“Frequent travellers too should also get their booster shot as a precaution.

“The virus mutates over time and any form of protection is much welcome,” she said.

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