• Ilona Andrew

Covid booster shots: PH tells govt to provide clear timeline, engage private GPs ASAP


18 Oct 2021

By Ilona Andrew


KUALA LUMPUR: The Pakatan Harapan (PH) Health Committee has called on the government to provide a clear timeline for the implementation of Covid-19 booster shots as well as engage private General Practitioners (GPs) as soon as possible to set out a clear rollout strategy.


This came after the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) revealed that there has not been any proper engagement and even silence from the state health departments on the programme.


“This should not be the case as lessons should have been learnt from the past mistakes including involving the private GPs only at the very last minute.


“The rollout needs to be properly planned, specific and well-coordinated among all stakeholders, including the private GPs who are tasked to handle booster shots for frontliners and senior citizens,” said the committee in a statement, today.


This is to ensure efficiency and speed in the programme, the committee added.


The statement was signed by Kuala Selangor MP, Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad; Gopeng M, Dr Lee Boon Chye; Bangi MP, Dr Ong Kian Ming; Lumut MP, Datuk Wira Dr Mohd Hatta Md Ramli; Bandar Kuching MP, Kelvin Yil; Bayan Baru MP, Sim Tze Tzin; Lanag MP, Alice Lau; Selangor Government Exco, Siti Mariah Mahmud; Penang Government Exco, Dr Norlela Ariffin; Negeri Sembilan Exco,Veerapan Supramaniam; Dr Hafidzah Mustakim (AMANAH); and Dr Zaliha Mustafa (KEADILAN)


According to the committee, a clear definition and categories of those eligible for the shots are needed as the majority of breakthrough infections would be among senior citizens aged above 60, mainly due to waning immunity, immunosuppression, and underlying health conditions.


Strategic efforts should also be put forward in order to educate those eligible on the importance of the additional dose and to ensure all of them are not left out of this rollout.


“We also take the stand that the Ministry of Health and the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) should approve as soon as possible heterologous vaccination with the booster.


“Clinical development shows promising results including studies that have been carried out in Germany, Spain, Taiwan, Sweden, and the UK on the ‘Effects of Heterologous Immunisation with Prime-Boost COVID-19 Vaccination against SARS-CoV-2’.


“They have shown positive results including increased levels of neutralizing antibodies in comparison to homologous vaccination. Moreover, a heterologous prime-boost regimen with an adenovirus vector vaccine also improved Th1-biased T cell responses.


“With that, we reiterate our call for a clear and comprehensive strategy based on science and

data to give greater protection and help induce a greater immune response to protect our high-risk groups. especially in view of their waning neutralising antibodies with time.”


The Ministry of Health has decided to roll out booster shots to eligible recipients in view of significant breakthrough cases due to the reduction of neutralising antibodies with time.