Moh Plans Covid 19 Vaccine Mix And Match Study Next Month
The Health Ministry plans to conduct a study on heterologous Covid-19 vaccine booster shots, said its minister Khairy Jamaluddin.
Heterologous boosters refer to using a different vaccine as a booster shot instead of the same vaccine that was used in the recipient's primary vaccination. Using the same vaccine as a booster is known as a homologous booster.
“The study will be performed in Sarawak in November 2021 and will be expanded to other states after obtaining approval from the Medical Research and Ethics Committee,” Khairy (above) said in a statement today.
The statement comes as Sarawak begins administering third vaccine doses and booster shots.
Heterologous vaccination is seen as a potential way for increasing the effectiveness of vaccines and provide additional flexibility for dealing with supply disruptions.
The Special Committee for Ensuring Access to Covid-19 Vaccine Supply (JKJAV) had looked into heterologous vaccinations at least as early as June but has yet to recommend its implementation citing a lack of supporting data.
Pfizer boosters only for now
In the meantime, Khairy said the booster dose rollout will only involve recipients of the vaccine manufactured by Pfizer, who will receive the same vaccine as a booster shot.
“This is because only Comirnaty has received conditional approval (for booster shots) from the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency on Oct 8,” he said, referring to the Pfizer vaccine by its brand name.
Those eligible are senior citizens aged 60 years and above as well as frontliners who have completed their primary vaccination at least six months earlier.
They will be contacted through the MySejahtera app. If they don’t have access to the app, they will be contacted by phone or SMS by the vaccination centres.
The vaccines will be administered by private clinics to frontliners and senior citizens, while military personnel will receive their shots at military healthcare facilities.
Government healthcare workers will receive their shots at their own facilities; while private practitioners may do so at their own facilities too if approved by the state Health Department.
“The administration of the booster doses is done voluntarily and for free under the National Immunisation Programme.
“The main objective of providing the booster doses is to ensure Covid-19 vaccine recipients in Malaysia will have an optimum period of protection,” Khairy said.
Doctor's discretion for immunocompromised patients
In addition, the government is also providing additional doses for immunocompromised patients such as cancer patients, organ transplant recipients and people undergoing dialysis due to kidney diseases.
An “additional dose” refers to vaccine doses given to those who did not develop a sufficient immune response after a standard vaccine regimen; in contrast to “booster doses” that are given to people who have already developed a sufficient immune response during their primary vaccination, but the protection has since waned significantly over time.
Khairy said the additional doses will be given to immunocompromised patients after at least 28 days have passed from the initial vaccination.
“The vaccine provided depends on indications approved by medical experts treating the patient as well as vaccine supply, whether it’d be the same type (homologous) or different (heterologous) from the last dose.
“The provision of the additional doses will be provided at selected medical facilities under medical supervision,” the minister added. - Mkini
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