KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 13 — Nearly half of 10 million people fully vaccinated with Sinovac’s Covid-19 vaccine in Malaysia have yet to get their booster shot, less than two months before their fully vaccinated status lapses on February 28.
As of January 11, there were 5,153,178 boosted Sinovac recipients nationwide in Malaysia, while the remaining unboosted 48 per cent – or 4,841,967 of 9,995,145 people double-vaccinated with the Chinese inactivated vaccine — have about 46 days left to get a third jab.
The most popular coronavirus vaccine combination in Malaysia is two doses of Sinovac followed by a booster with Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine.
This Sinovac-Sinovac-Pfizer vaccine regimen accounts for about 4.4 million recipients, comprising 53 per cent of 8.3 million boosted individuals in Malaysia as of January 11, followed by three Pfizer doses for 2.1 million adults (26 per cent).
As of yesterday, three months after Malaysia rolled out boosters last October 13, only 36.5 per cent of adults aged 18 and above have received additional Covid-19 vaccine doses, amid more widespread hesitancy towards boosters than initial inoculation.
According to CovidNow, 80 per cent of the adult population in Malaysia was fully vaccinated by last September 18, which means that all of these individuals should already be eligible for boosters regardless of the type of vaccine they took. Yet, less than half have gotten boosted.
Although Malaysia has fully vaccinated a bigger share of its population than the United Kingdom, the UK’s booster vaccine coverage is more than twice that of Malaysia.
Pfizer was the most common booster vaccine for those who previously received two Sinovac doses, comprising 85 per cent of 5,153,178 boosted Sinovac recipients, or some 4.4 million individuals inoculated with a Sinovac-Sinovac-Pfizer regimen.
The second most common booster for Sinovac recipients was a third jab of the same vaccine for 655,916 people, or 13 per cent, as of January 11. More than half of these 655,916 individuals triple-vaccinated with Sinovac reside in Sarawak (132,696), Penang (105,079), and Selangor (100,818).
A total of 113,401 people received an AstraZeneca booster after two Sinovac jabs, comprising 2 per cent of the 5.15 million boosted individuals who were initially vaccinated with Sinovac.
When Malaysia first launched third vaccine doses for adults in October, those previously inoculated with Sinovac could get a booster three months after their second dose.
According to CovidNow, most Sinovac doses were administered June to August last year. This indicates that most adults double-jabbed with Sinovac should already be eligible for a third shot, but are not coming forward or following their appointments, for whatever reason.
There are currently about two million people in Malaysia double-vaccinated with AstraZeneca-Oxford’s coronavirus vaccine. However, just about 509,000 of them were boosted as of January 11, which accounts for only 25 per cent of the AstraZeneca recipient population.
ProtectHealth Corporation, which manages the booster programme, only started releasing booster appointment dates for AstraZeneca recipients this month, after Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin announced last December 28 the shortening of booster intervals to three months for individuals initially vaccinated with AstraZeneca or Pfizer.
The most common booster for double-vaccinated AstraZeneca recipients was Pfizer, which accounts for 62.6 per cent, or 318,685 of 508,858 boosted individuals who initially received two AstraZeneca doses.
This was followed by a booster of the same AstraZeneca vaccine at 37.2 per cent of boosted AstraZeneca recipients.
Pfizer recipients on the other hand are most commonly administered with a third Pfizer dose as a booster.
There were 2,148,637 fully vaccinated Pfizer recipients taking a third dose of the same mRNA vaccine, about 96.6 per cent, as of January 11.
The remaining boosters given to double-vaccinated Pfizer recipients, in decreasing popularity, are AstraZeneca, Sinovac, Sinopharm, and CanSino.
A significant point to note on Pfizer recipients is that while there are 13.4 million fully vaccinated Pfizer recipients, only 2,224,223 of them are boosted, amounting to just 16.57 per cent.
About 2.77 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 have been fully vaccinated as of yesterday, most of whom would have received Pfizer, the main recommended Covid-19 shot for this age group. Teenagers below 18 are not yet eligible for booster shots.
Excluding the adolescent group means that the 2.2 million boosted comprises about 21 per cent of 10.6 million adult Pfizer recipients, still relatively low coverage given that most, like AstraZeneca recipients, would have been eligible for boosters by now.