KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 13 — Sarawak today began offering Covid-19 boosters and third shots with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, beginning with high-risk individuals who received two doses of the mNRA shot.
Sarawak state health deputy director (public health) Dr Rosemawati Ariffin said in a statement that third doses would be offered to an estimated 11,900 people with compromised immune systems, due to disease or medical treatment, as part of their primary vaccine series.
This immunocompromised group is considered not to have mounted a sufficient immune response with two doses and hence, require a third dose to complete vaccination.
Booster shots, on the other hand, will be offered to an estimated 80,300 senior citizens aged 60 and above and 30,340 frontline medical workers.
Boosters are defined as an additional jab for individuals who initially had sufficient immune response from their primary vaccine series, but whose immunity may have waned in time.
“Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine has been approved as a booster dose. To date, approval has been issued for vaccines with the same function as vaccines that were given consecutively in the early stage (homologous vaccination),” Dr Rosemawati said in a statement.
Eligible individuals can receive their third dose or booster shot at least 28 days or at least six months respectively after their second jabs.
In a statement by Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah last October 8, the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) approved Pfizer to be used as a booster dose. However, his statement did not contain recommendations from NPRA on heterologous vaccination (mix-and-match vaccines) or priority groups for boosters or third doses.
Dr Rosemawati also said today that the Sarawak state health department will be offering third shots and booster jabs to “all residents” in the state.
Third doses and boosters will be offered in selected public health clinics, as well as private clinics and hospitals.
“This offer of third doses and booster doses does not mean that the vaccines given previously did not provide the desired clinical protection. Instead, this is an effort to increase protection for vulnerable groups,” said Dr Rosemawati.
A poster uploaded by the Sarawak public communications unit (UKAS) offered Pfizer boosters to staff at the Serian division’s health office who were previously inoculated with Pfizer and had received their second jab at least six months ago.
Any inquiries can be made to the Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (Booster Dose) hotline at 082-473276 or 082-473345 every day from 8am to 5pm, including weekends and public holidays.
Sarawak faced a surge of Covid-19 cases since August, despite being among the first states out of the gate with vaccination, as health care workers from a few hospitals expressed concern about a deluge of sick patients, most of whom were fully vaccinated.
Daily infections reached a peak of 5,291 cases on September 12, but have dropped since in line with a sharp fall in testing. The state’s positive rate is currently 15.8 per cent. Daily admissions began decreasing since September 12. However, coronavirus cases requiring ventilation and intensive care, as well as Covid-19 deaths, continued climbing since early August and have yet to fall.
About 68 per cent of Sarawak’s total population has been fully vaccinated with two doses, exceeding the national average of 66 per cent. As of yesterday, about 74 per cent of Sarawak’s fully vaccinated population received Sinovac, compared to 22 per cent Pfizer, 2 per cent AstraZeneca, and 0.01 per cent CanSino.