Sarawak Set To Roll Out Covid-19 Booster Shots

Dr Sim Kui Hian says third jabs will be offered to three priority groups in line with the target recipients in the first three phases of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme.

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 17 — Sarawak will soon offer third jabs to adults who received double doses of the Covid-19 vaccine amid a surge of the Delta variant despite high vaccination rates.

Sarawak state housing and local government minister Dr Sim Kui Hian said a virtual meeting he had earlier today with Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Douglas Uggah Embas, and the state health department earlier today agreed to implement third shots and booster doses in stages for three priority groups.

“Formal announcement of the PICK policy will be made very soon,” Dr Sim posted on Facebook, referring to the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK).

When asked about the three priority groups, Dr Sim told CodeBlue that they were “more or less similar” to the first three phases of PICK.

Frontline health workers were prioritised under Phase One of the national coronavirus vaccine rollout, followed by senior citizens in the second phase and the general public in Phase Three.

“We had put up our proposal and YB KJ will discuss with the KKM technical committee,” said Dr Sim, referring to Khairy.

He added that the state government has also made proposals to the federal Ministry of Health (MOH), when asked if Sarawak would mix and match vaccines by offering Pfizer as a third shot since most double-vaccinated Sarawakians received Sinovac.

Dr Sim also said the state government and MOH have agreed to scale up Covid-19 testing and isolation to curb community transmission and to increase medical facilities, especially critical care, in the rural state that is almost as large as the peninsula.

CodeBlue broke the news Wednesday that the federal Special Committee on Ensuring Access to Covid-19 Vaccine Supply (JKJAV) has authorised a booster programme — using Pfizer and AstraZeneca — that will start in states that have fully inoculated more than 80 per cent of their adult population.

The booster vaccine rollout will target five high-risk groups in those states: adults aged 60 years and older with underlying health conditions, individuals with weak immune systems, residents and workers at long-term care facilities, frontline health workers, and those previously infected with the coronavirus who completed vaccination in Phase One of PICK.

JKJAV recommended that the second priority group for booster shots comprise individuals aged 18 to 59 with comorbidities who are at high risk of getting re-infected with the coronavirus, as well as other frontline workers.

CodeBlue reported Sarawak Covid-19 Vaccine Advisory Group (Scovag) chairman Dr Andrew Kiyu as saying at a webinar last week that Scovag has recommended Pfizer as the third jab for the elderly and immunocompromised people.

Over the past week, Sarawak averaged about 3,761 Covid-19 cases a day, the highest in the country, even as about 65 per cent of its total population has been double-vaccinated.

Besides Sarawak, Perlis, Negeri Sembilan, Labuan, and the Klang Valley have fully inoculated more than 80 per cent of their adult residents.

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