Khairy: MoH not ruling out possibility of vaccine booster shots

This follows the spike in Covid-19 cases in Sarawak despite the vaccination rate in the state has now surpassed 80%

by S BIRRUNTHA / Pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

THE Health Ministry (MoH) is looking at the possibility of providing Covid-19 vaccine booster doses to address the sharp increase in cases in several states.

Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar said this followed the spike in Covid-19 cases in Sarawak despite the vaccination rate in the state has now surpassed 80%.

He said the situation is likely contributed by the decline in vaccine effectiveness after several months of vaccination.

“This situation is not only in our country, but it could also be seen elsewhere that have achieved cluster immunity and high vaccination numbers such as Singapore and Israel.

“Some countries have also started giving extra doses to their people. So, we certainly have not ruled out the possibility of providing a booster dose.

“I already asked for a report of recommendations to be made in the Special Committee on Ensuring Access to Covid-19 Vaccine Supply meeting next week,” he said in a press conference in Putrajaya yesterday.

Khairy also highlighted that due to the success of vaccination in the Klang Valley, the capacity of critical patients in hospitals has somewhat decreased, giving relief to frontline workers.

Therefore, he said the MoH is considering giving additional leave to health workers.

“We will continue our efforts in the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme and public health, which is capable of contributing to a decrease in the number of cases and reducing the stress among health workers,” he said.

The minister also noted that apart from additional leave, MoH would also mobilise a psychological unit to conduct counselling sessions for those who are suffering from depression.

Meanwhile, the minister said all Covid19 patients from the high-risk category, namely Categories 2 and 3 will be admitted to the Covid-19 Quarantine and Treatment Centre (PKRC).

He said it would be done after conducting a risk assessment on the patients. The State Health Departments had been instructed to provide space to admit patients from both categories in their respective PKRC.

“I have also instructed them to provide medical devices such as oximeter, to measure oxygen levels of Covid-19 patients undergoing quarantine at their respective homes if they are also categorised as high risk,” he added.

Yesterday, MoH launched a new website, Covidnow (https://Covidnow.moh.gov.my/), that lets people track the latest simplified data on Covid-19.

Khairy said the public can now browse the new website, which was already available from 6pm yesterday.

“I hope with the data and information shared on Covidnow, the public will have a better understanding and awareness regarding the Covid-19 situation in the country.

“The new website will display data that is easier to understand, with simpler report delivery.

“Additionally, efforts to make behavioural changes and adopt standard operating procedures can be enhanced so that we can begin to enter a new phase of living with the Covid-19 virus,” he said.

The new website will also provide the details of new cases, as well as the status of vaccination and the types of vaccines. The website will be updated at 11.59pm daily.

Additionally, Khairy said the MySejahtera application team has been given a week to resolve issues related to digital certificates to prove that an individual has been fully vaccinated.

He acknowledged that there are some fully vaccinated individuals whose MySejahtera applications do not display the digital certificate.

Regarding deaths involving individuals who had received complete vaccination, Khairy admitted that such cases have occurred although only at a rate of 0.009%.

Khairy said the number was equivalent to 90 people per million population, adding that vaccines are indeed effective and save lives, regardless of what type of vaccine they received.

“Of course, there will be ‘breakthrough’ deaths, but it is better to be vaccinated than not.

“We also found that 81% of those who died despite being fully vaccinated had comorbidities, while 80% were over 60 years old,” he added.

Additionally, he also said 2,417 out of the brought-in-dead (BID) cases, 86% had not undergone health monitoring either under the MoH or private healthcare, as of Aug 31.

“One of our strategies to reduce the number of BIDs is to increase the number of individuals undergoing health monitoring,” he said.

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