Khairy: Pfizer Preferred Covid-19 Booster For All, AstraZeneca Alternative

Malaysia is maintaining the six-month booster interval for now, except three months for Sinovac recipients, while a new booster interval will be announced for the immunocompromised next week.

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 1 — The Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) today recommended Pfizer-BioNTech as the main Covid-19 booster option regardless of the type of vaccine taken for primary vaccination.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said AstraZeneca-Oxford is recommended as an alternative booster to Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine for both mix-and-match and adults initially vaccinated with two AstraZeneca doses.

“The Technical Working Group has recommended Pfizer as the preferred booster vaccine for all primary series unless contraindicated,” Khairy told a press conference.

“Real-world effectiveness [data] from a few countries have shown the Pfizer vaccine conferred very high protection against Covid-19 infection, hospitalisation and death. 

“And emerging data has shown Pfizer as a booster vaccine with a good and favourable safety profile, but we also maintain that AstraZeneca is a suitable alternative to Pfizer as a booster dose for both homologous as well as heterologous.”

Khairy added that offers of Pfizer or AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines at vaccination centres under the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK) also depended on vaccine availability.

“We would urge the public, when you go for your appointment, whatever vaccine is available for the booster dose, please take that vaccine.”

Last Monday, the United Kingdom’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) similarly recommended mRNA vaccines — either Pfizer or Moderna — as the preferred Covid-19 booster, regardless of the type of vaccine taken in one’s primary course. 

Malaysia’s CITF previously recommended Pfizer as the preferred booster to primary vaccination across all vaccine types except AstraZeneca recipients, who were initially recommended a booster with the same vaccine. 

Malaysia has rolled out Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Sinovac, and CanSino vaccines, while Sinopharm and Moderna are offered in private vaccination programmes.

When asked if Malaysia would shorten the interval for booster jabs from six to three months after the second dose for all fully vaccinated adults, like what the UK recently announced, Khairy said the government would retain a six-month interval for now, except three months for Sinovac vaccine recipients and immunocompromised individuals.

“There will be an announcement next week for those who are immunocompromised as to the new interval for them,” he said.

“For the general public, it’s still at six months. However, we’ll continue to review. Most countries have still retained six months, but we’re aware that some countries have shortened it. 

“Some countries have shortened it due to the winter season that they’re facing, which of course we don’t have in Malaysia, but we’ll continue to monitor the situation and should the situation necessitate a shorter interval period, we’ll make that announcement in time to come.”

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