Booster dose not mandatory for now, Dewan Rakyat told

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KUALA LUMPUR – The government does not intend to make booster doses a mandatory condition to complete dosage of COVID-19 vaccines for Malaysians for now, the Dewan Rakyat was told today.

Deputy Health Minister II Datuk Aaron Ago Dagang said that just like for the first and second dose shots, taking the booster dose was a voluntary decision.

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“Although the percentage in uptake of booster dose is relatively slow, which is only 10.83 percent so far, we cannot make the booster shots mandatory.

“But with the emergence of the Omicron variant which is of concern, we recommend that the booster dose be taken,” he said during the question-and-answer session.

He was replying to a supplementary question from Steven Choong Shiau Yoon (Ind-Tebrau) on whether the Ministry of Health (MOH) would make the booster dose a condition for fully vaccinated status.

There were 30 to 40 per cent of fully vaccinated recipients (two doses) refusing to take the booster dose, he added.

Elaborating further, Aaron said the MOH will continue to actively implement measures and campaigns to ensure that fully vaccinated recipients receive the booster dose.

Replying to the original question from Dr Azman Ismail (PH-Kuala Kedah) on the study and data referred to by the MOH in deciding on the need for the third dose, Aaron said it was the result of an interim analysis which reported that there was 10 per cent, namely 55 cases out of 551 health workers getting breakthrough infections. after receiving the complete Comirnaty (Pfizer) vaccination within three to six months.

He said in another study, RECoVaM (The Real-World Evaluation of COVID-19 Vaccines under the Malaysian National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme) conducted on 14,500,984 individuals who received full dosage, there were infections and the overall rate was 1.30 out of 100 people.

“Half of all breakthrough infections occurred within 30 days, the breakthrough infection rate increased with increasing days since receiving complete doses of vaccine and the infection rate is 5.20 per cent to 5.32 per cent within 120 days after full vaccination,” he said.

Meanwhile, replying to another question from Datuk Mohd Fasiah Mohd Fakeh (Bersatu-Sabak Bernam) on the development and progress of booster dose injection, Aaron said that as of Nov 30, the number of booster-dose recipients was 2,457,510 or 10.83 per cent out of the total adult population who were fully vaccinated.

He said the booster shots were given to adults aged 18 and above with priority given to vulnerable and high-risk groups to ensure the country’s health services continued to function at optimum levels.