KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 26 — People with HIV and cancer can be vaccinated against Covid-19 if they do not have health issues, Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said today.
The top Ministry of Health (MOH) official said if HIV patients’ CD4 (protein found on immune cells) count is above 200, there is no problem for them to receive coronavirus vaccines.
“The HIV group, cancer patients, and the like — if they are healthy, they’ll be given a vaccine,” Dr Noor Hisham told a press briefing today on Covid-19 vaccination, of which CodeBlue obtained a recording.
Health deputy director-general Dr Hishamshah Mohd Ibrahim said at the same media briefing that decisions on Covid-19 vaccination for such patients on stable treatment must be made on a case-by-case basis, upon discussion with their treating physician.
“If immunity is low and if we give a vaccine, we’re worried about the body’s reaction — it cannot mount an adequate immune response or build sufficient antibodies,” Dr Hishamshah said.
“There are various forms of Covid-19 vaccines; now it’s mRNA. But if we use attenuated, like live virus [vaccines], we can’t give it to people with low immunity,” he added, even though none of the Covid-19 vaccines approved by international regulators or other vaccine candidates are live virus vaccines. Malaysia has approved Pfizer-BioNTech’s mRNA vaccine.
HIV groups, like the Malaysian AIDS Council and the Malaysian Society for HIV Medicine, have told the government not to exclude people living with HIV from coronavirus inoculation, regardless of their CD4 count.
Some oncologists have also said Covid-19 vaccination should be open to cancer patients on active treatment, citing the United States and the World Health Organization (WHO) that prioritise cancer patients for inoculation.