Sarawak to lead the way with booster vaccine

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar

By Petronella Felix

The state will begin administering the booster shots next month

KUCHING: Sarawak will be the first state to administer the Covid-19 booster shots next month, said Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.

He said priority would be given to high-risk individuals comprising those aged above 60 years and people with serious comorbidities.

“This was decided considering most countries only approved the booster shot for this age group,” he explained in a press conference after a special meeting on immunisation and Covid-19 pandemic management with Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) at Wisma Bapa Malaysia yesterday (Sept 26).

Khairy said that not many countries had approved the booster shots for the general population, adding that even the United States (US) Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only approved booster shots for those aged above 65.

“We are not ruling out the possibility of healthy individuals below the age of 60 getting the booster shot, however our focus right now is to protect the most vulnerable in the society, namely the high-risk individuals.

“As we can see, most of the Covid-19 cases based on admission to intensive care unit (ICU) and fatalities involve our elderly and those with underlying comorbidities; therefore, this group of people are our priority.

“We want to avoid using our resources for those who may not need it right now,” he pointed out.

He also said that the Health Ministry would come up with clinical guidelines for the booster shots with help from specialists soon.

“The clinical guidelines will include the type of vaccine we will administer for the booster shot, as we are still evaluating on whether the same vaccine will be used or if we can opt for a different type,” he said.

Khairy also added that the state would be the first to administer the booster dose because Sarawak was among the first in the country to complete the vaccination process.