Covid booster shots: Why did many fail to turn up?

Many were leery about the mix-and-match approach, Jem writes

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GERD ALTMANN/PIXABAY

Covid cases have risen again in recent days.

The rate of transmission reportedly has risen above 1.0 and so Malaysia could be in line for another surge. 

Why is this happening again? Have the public become so inured to the pandemic just because over 95% of them have been inoculated and booster shots are being rolled out?

Another wave of the virus could be on the horizon. How many waves has Malaysia had so far? Four? Five? Are we looking at lockdowns again should this happen?

The prime minister has said that even if the numbers rise, there would no longer be any blanket lockdown. Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin also reiterated that Malaysia is transitioning into the endemic stage.

This means the virus will not disappear but, hopefully, people will gain immunity so that there will be fewer transmissions, hospitalisation and deaths. It looks as if we just have to learn to live with this virus.

Early this year, the rollout of vaccinations for ‘herd immunity’ was pitched to the Malaysian public. Centres were opened nationwide to enable the masses to be vaccinated.

Thousands were getting infected and many died. So naturally, people were afraid and many went for their shots, no matter what the brands were. But did we ever reach ‘herd immunity’?

As months passed and more people were vaccinated, the cases tapered downwards and the country breathed a sigh of relief.

With much fewer cases, the new government allowed interstate travel and millions hit the roads for whatever reasons. But with the reopening of interstate travel and businesses, many expect Covid cases to creep up again, and they are not altogether wrong.

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The government said international travel would be reopening soon. This should also be of concern as many other countries are reporting much higher Covid cases.

Meanwhile, the Malacca state election is on, while the general election and the Sarawak state election are looming. The Sindumin and Batu Sapi by-elections in Sabah are also hovering in the background. In light of rising cases and the possibility of another Covid wave, are these elections really important at this point?

Recall what happened in the Sabah election in 2020 – a spike in Covid cases. Then Prime Minister Mahiaddin Yasin admitted this led to a spike in infections in the country (The Straits Times, 18 November 2020). You reap what you sow!

With Dr Noor Hisham’s comment that another wave could be looming, the push is now on for booster shots and the ‘vaccine of choice’ is apparently Pfizer. 

Lately, Khairy has been complaining that tens of thousands failed to show up for their booster shot appointments. The fact he is pushing Pfizer makes one wonder, as he did the same when he was innovation minister with the Sinovac vaccine. Why? Too many Pfizer vaccines sitting in some deep freezer?

Earlier, one was not given any choice. It was a matter of take it or leave it. Now, it is ‘mix and match’, and many are naturally leery because they want to know if this is the right way to go. 

The elderly were informed then that Sinovac was the vaccine of choice for them, apparently because of the reduced likelihood of side effects. Now it seems they have to take the Pfizer shot, and many are wary of the possibility of side effects.

READ MORE:  Sinovac vs Pfizer booster? In a quandary

So, is this vaccine that Khairy is pushing suitable for the elderly? Some are even willing to pay for the Sinovac booster at private clinics so that all their three jabs are the same. Maybe this is the reason why many did not turn up for their Pfizer booster?

A doctor in Sarawak said the Ministry of Health should get the Sinovac booster shots approved because those already injected with this vaccine in Sarawak do not want to take Pfizer.

The authorities have now approved Sinovac and AstraZeneca as boosters for those who had previously received these vaccines.

Incidentally, doesn’t one have to wait six months before one gets the booster? Some who were injected with either Sinovac or Pfizer about four or five months ago have already been informed that they are to get their Pfizer shots. 

So what is going on here? It would be great if somebody from the Ministry of Health could clarify all this as soon as possible. Perhaps only then will people again flock to the centres, this time for their booster shots.

Jem, an Aliran reader, still cares deeply about Sabah, despite having lived in the peninsula for some time

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Paul Lim
Paul Lim
21 Nov 2021 3.04am

Here in Belgium, Pfizer is pushed although i for example had Astra Zeneca. I do not think that there is a définitive position on whether mixing is good or not. May be 20-30 years down the road and when the Scientific Community and the médical profession look back they will see the mistakes, the outcomes of the vaccines. For the moment we are all guinea pige.