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11:31am 25/02/2022
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Booster vaccination builds protection against Omicron

The Academy of Medicine of Malaysia (AMM) supports the statement made by the Minister of Health on December 16, 2021, emphasizing the need for a third vaccine dose as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  recommendation.

This announcement was made specifically for selected individuals under high-risk categories such as senior citizens above 60 years old and Sinovac primary series vaccine recipients aged above 18 years old.

According to Malaysia’s CovidNow database, 40% of the eligible adult population is still unboosted.

The public is equally responsible for battling the Omicron wave. We urge the public to understand the government’s plan to reinforce this public health intervention, which is not meant to be a coercion but is intended to confer population-level immunity in battling the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

Three doses versus two doses of vaccines against Omicron

The urgency to reach a high booster coverage is part of the nation’s COVID-19 pandemic management strategy to allow the public to continue to preserve their social and economic sector privileges without being curbed by a lockdown.

Countries such as Singapore and Austria, have similarly encouraged a three-dose vaccine regimen for those who are eligible, to strengthen the country’s wall of immunity.

A preliminary study conducted by the Africa Health Research Institute concluded that the Omicron variant demonstrated an ‘escape mechanism’ in recipients of two doses of mRNA vaccine, underscoring its inadequacy in building protection.

Meanwhile, various studies released by CDC have proven that a third dose or booster shot is at least 90% effective at preventing hospitalizations during both Delta and Omicron waves.

This signifies the role of boosters to counter waning immunity conferred by the initial two-dose COVID-19 primary series.

The latest press release by MOH reiterates the need to be vaccinated and boosted to reduce serious complications and mortality from COVID-19 as well as to avoid overwhelming our healthcare system.

However, we urge the government to also reinforce their crisis communication efforts to reduce vaccine complacency among our rakyat and allow a reasonable timeframe for selected individuals from these high-risk categories to receive their booster doses without feeling pressured.

We further urge the government to improve access to the country’s booster roll-out by deploying more mobile vaccination programs particularly for vulnerable senior citizens in nursing homes and remote areas and to ensure at least 70% of the country’s adult population is boosted.AAM

We seek increased public understanding and trust in our government’s plan against the Omicron wave, where we are currently back to single and double-digit death toll figures despite the surging 5-digit COVID-19 cases.

Vaccine hesitancy is a challenge to our government’s plan to effectively battle the Omicron wave, especially when the caseload is expected to increase exponentially over the coming weeks.

We need to ensure our responsibilities are aligned with the government’s efforts to achieve optimum protection for all, regardless of age and socioeconomic status.

‘Lindungi Diri, Lindungi Semua’.

  • Academy of Medicine of Malaysia (Professor Dr Rosmawati Mohamed, Master) College of Anaesthesiologists (Professor Dr Marzida Mansor, President)
  • College of Dental Specialists (Professor Dato’ Dr Lian Chin Boon, President)
  • College of Emergency Physicians (Associate Professor Dr Shaik Farid Abdull Wahab, President) College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (Professor Datuk Dr Siti Zawiah Omar, President) College of Ophthalmologists (Dr Nur Fariza Ngah, President)
  • College of Paediatrics (Professor Dr Thong Meow Keong, President) College of Pathologists (Professor Dr Cheong Soon Keng, President)
  • College of Physicians (Dr Letchuman Ramanathan, President)
  • College of Public Health Medicine (Dato’ Indera Dr Sha’ari Ngadiman, President) College of Radiology (Professor Dr Norlisah Ramli, President)
  • College of Surgeons (Professor Dr Lim Kean Ghee, President)

(The Academy of Medicine of Malaysia, embracing 11 Colleges and 24 Chapters, is a registered body representing medical specialists in Malaysia)

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