Second booster jab an option for ages 60 and above

by ASILA JALIL / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

INDIVIDUALS aged 60 and above with comorbidities that put them at risk of developing severe Covid-19 symptoms or death can opt for the second booster shot.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar said the decision was made following scientific research done by the technical working group on the cohorts in the country.

“Individuals aged 60 and above with highrisk comorbidities can be given the second booster dose, with an interval of at least four to six months after their first booster jab.

“This is an option and it is not compulsory for the age group. We will announce the steps to book an appointment for the fourth dose soon,” he said during a media briefing yesterday.

Those from the same age group who do not have high risk comorbidities can also sign up for the second booster shot, after consulting their doctors.

The option for the fourth shot however would not affect the vaccination status for those who refuse to take it.

“If they are high risk individuals who cannot take the second booster shot, they will not lose their completed vaccination status. This is only an option.

“Currently, the Comirnaty mRNA vaccine (Pfizer Inc-BioNTech SE) is the recommended vaccine for a second booster dose,” he said.

As for individuals aged 60 and above who have taken their booster dose and were infected with Covid-19, they are eligible to receive the second booster jab three months after they have fully recovered.

Immunocompromised teenagers aged 12 to 17 can also be administered with the first booster shot at least 28 days after the date of their second jab.

The country currently has 5.6 million doses of Pfizer which the minister said is sufficient to accommodate the second booster dose.

Khairy said his ministry had also dispatched the Covid-19 antiviral treatment, Paxlovid by Pfizer, to 14 locations nationwide to date. The treatment will be delivered to two more locations in Sabah and Sarawak today.

The locations include 481 Covid-19 assessment centres and 15 government hospitals.

“We have ordered the treatment for 104,000 patients. We are in talks with Pfizer to acquire for another 100,000 patients,” he said.

With regards to the isolation period for close contacts, Khairy said asymptomatic close contacts do not have to be quarantined, irrespective of their vaccination status.

The previous standard operating procedure required asymptomatic close contacts to undergo quarantine if they have not completed their vaccination.

Khairy also rebutted claims on MySejahtera’s irrelevance in contact tracing as the feature has identified positive cases during the peak Omicron wave.

“During the height of the Omicron, MySejahtera sent out notifications to casual contacts and 45% of them were tested positive.

“They then took the initiative to selfisolate. I disagree with those who claim MySejahtera is irrelevant,” said the minister.

Khairy added that the ministry is also studying reinfection cases among Covid-19 patients within short intervals after they have been cured of the virus.

He noted the short interval reactions which occur after 20 days are taking place in the UK, Denmark and the US.

“We are studying the cases to determine ways to mitigate this. For now, none of the vaccines can prevent reinfection of Covid-19,” he added.