70% need to get booster shots: Malaysia’s health minister

With about 13.6 million Malaysian adults having had their booster shots, another 2.8 million will have to do so to meet the 70% target.

Mazwin Nik Anis and Martin Carvalho

Mazwin Nik Anis and Martin Carvalho

The Star


February 18, 2022

PUTRAJAYA –  Some 70% of the nation’s adult population needs to get their Covid-19 booster shots to avoid a rise in serious and fatal Covid-19 cases developing amid the Omicron wave, says Khairy Jamaluddin.

The Health Minister said the current percentage of adult population that had booster shots is “not even at 58%”.

“While Malaysia may be ahead in providing booster shots compared with Australia, Thailand, Japan and Indonesia, we are still lagging behind Singapore and South Korea.

“We need to double up the effort to get those who haven’t gotten their booster shots to do so.”

With about 13.6 million Malaysian adults having had their booster shots, another 2.8 million will have to do so to meet the 70% target. Those above 60 or have taken Sinovac could lose their fully vacinated status by March 1.

At the current rate of vaccination, with some 117,000 people getting their jabs every day, only a total of 1.7 million can be vaccinated by March 1. This means that more than a million people could see their yellow fully vaccinated status turn to the white partially vaccinated status on MySejahtera.

“Now is not a question of capacity or supply but looking for those who haven’t received their booster shots to do so,” Khairy told the press conference yesterday.

He said the Feb 16 Covid-19 statistics showed 77.5% of Covid-19 patients under categories 3, 4 and 5 were not fully vaccinated or had booster shots.

He said that despite hitting a record new Covid-19 daily infections with 27,831 cases on Feb 17, the number of categories 3, 4 and 5 were much lower than during the previous record of 24,599 cases set on Aug 26 last year during the Delta wave.

“A total of 116 cases requiring ventilator assistance were recorded on Feb 16 compared to 934 on Aug 26 last year,” he said, adding that patients admitted to the intensive care units (ICU) and deaths were reduced between 80% and 90% compared to the same period last year.

He said this showed that vaccination and booster shots, although not a guarantee against infections, prevented serious Covid-19 cases among patients.

He also said overall ICU bed use at hospitals is currently at 25% and 61% for non-critical care while bed use at the quarantine centres is at 52%.

The minister said there was a 160% jump in Covid-19 cases among young children below 12 over the past week.

“A total of 6,524 Covid-19 cases were detected among children in the fifth week of the year and this increased drastically to 16,959 in the sixth week.

“Of this, 4,242 children between the ages of five and 11 were recorded in the fifth week while 10,796 cases involving the same age group were recorded for the sixth week,” he said.

In light of this, Khairy urged parents to register their children, between five and 11, for vaccination under the PICKids immunisation programme.

“Although response to the programme has been good, we have yet to reach one million registrations,” he added.

The sharp rise, he said, may be due to the recent opening of schools and also efforts by anti-vaxxers to dissuade parents from getting their children vaccinated.

As for newborns and those aged below five, Khairy said no vaccine had been developed for this group and that the ministry was exploring other intervention measures.

Meanwhile, Khairy said the ministry would stop issuing daily Covid-19 figures on the same day itself but would release the information the following day at 10am to avoid creating fear among the public who might misinterpret the data out of context.

“This will educate society to look at the data more than just the daily cases,” he added.

He added that Singapore had stopped issuing its Covid-19 figures on the same day.

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