KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 17 – Even with three coronavirus vaccine shots, adults primed with Sinovac and all senior citizens will be subject to an extra two days’ quarantine from March 1 if they are close contacts of positive Covid-19 cases.
This is because, from March 1, the Ministry of Health (MOH) considers those aged 60 years and older, irrespective of their primary course, as well as adults aged 18 and above who received Sinovac for their first two doses to only be “fully vaccinated” – not “boosted” – with three jabs.
The first major implication of this “non-boosted” status for triple-vaccinated senior citizens and primed Sinovac recipients is a seven-day quarantine from March 1 if they are close contacts of positive Covid-19 cases, compared to a shorter five-day quarantine for boosted people.
Those considered boosted are individuals aged below 60 vaccinated with either Pfizer, AstraZeneca, or Sinopharm who received a third jab of any Covid-19 vaccine, or in the case of single-shot CanSino recipients, a second jab.
The new Covid-19 quarantine protocols kicked into effect yesterday. For close contacts of positive Covid-19 cases, boosted individuals are subject to five days’ self-isolation, versus seven days for non-boosted people.
For asymptomatic close contacts, boosted and non-boosted people must take an antigen rapid test (RTK-Ag) under medical supervision on Day Five and Day Seven respectively. They can subsequently exit isolation if their test results are negative.
Close contacts with symptoms can self-test for the virus or visit a health care facility.
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin also announced Saturday that positive Covid-19 cases would be subject to seven days’ quarantine for asymptomatic fully vaccinated cases, as well as 10 days’ isolation for partially inoculated or unvaccinated people, or symptomatic cases.
The quarantine rules for non-boosted close contacts apply to fully vaccinated, partially vaccinated, and unvaccinated people.
In other words, a senior citizen or a primed Sinovac recipient who got three jabs is treated the same as someone who did not take the coronavirus vaccine at all.
The government is implementing this new quarantine policy that discriminates based on age and vaccine type, even though most Malaysians were not given a choice in their Covid-19 vaccine primer, except for the minority of two million (mostly young) people who chose AstraZeneca in the opt-in programme.
Since the elderly and adults who received two Sinovac doses are required to take a third vaccine dose before March 1 to retain their fully vaccinated status on MySejahtera, they face different quarantine protocols as close contacts before and after March 1.
Until February 28, triple-jabbed close contacts who are aged 60 years and older and primed Sinovac recipients only need to quarantine for five days like other boosted individuals, but from March 1 onwards, they must self-isolate for seven days.
MOH has not yet announced if fourth vaccine doses will be offered to senior citizens and adults with Sinovac primary vaccination to be considered “boosted” and receive equal treatment. So far, there have been no reports of public premises denying entry to non-boosted people, as most still accept vaccine passes with “fully vaccinated” status on MySejahtera.
There are some 3.5 million people in Malaysia aged 60 years and older. About 39 per cent of fully vaccinated individuals in Malaysia received Sinovac, a Chinese inactivated vaccine, or some 10 million individuals. Nearly 40 per cent of adults nationwide have been boosted or received additional vaccine doses.