MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Covid-19 vaccines: Immunocompromised children to get three doses now


The Health Ministry’s Covid-19 vaccine technical working committee (TWG) has decided that the first course of vaccines for immunocompromised individuals should comprise three doses, up from the previous recommendation of two doses.

This is applicable to moderately or severely immunocompromised individuals aged five to 17 years.

The change means the previous recommendation for the third dose will be recategorised as being part of the vaccination’s primary series instead of being the first booster dose. Only subsequent doses (ie the fourth dose and onwards) are considered booster doses.

The TWG’s recommendation that moderately and severely immunocompromised individuals aged 12 to 17 years should get one booster shot after their primary series still stands, so this group is eligible for four doses in total.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who announced the new TWG recommendations today, said it is based on the latest assessments on vaccine effectiveness for high-risk adolescents.

He said abroad has shown that its effectiveness in preventing Covid-19 hospitalisations in such individuals falls from 73 percent at five months after the second dose to 42 percent at 10 months after the second dose.

“The move (to recommend three doses for the primary series) is aimed at ensuring optimum protection for these adolescents from the risk of developing severe Covid-19 infections,” he said in a statement.

Doses administration period

Immunocompromised individuals refer to people whose immune systems have been suppressed due to genetic conditions, disease, or medication; and are therefore less responsive to vaccines and less able to fend off infections including Covid-19 infections.

For immunocompromised children aged five to 11, the third dose should be administered at least eight weeks after the second dose.

For immunocompromised adolescents aged 12 to 17, the third dose should be administered at least 28 days after the second dose. This is shorter than the previous recommendation of four to six months after the second dose.

The fourth dose for immunocompromised adolescents should be administered after at least three months following the third dose.

Their immunocompromised condition should be validated by a private or government medical specialist.

Khairy said the procedures and mechanisms for rolling out the vaccinations will be finalised and announced soon.

In his statement, he also reiterated that individuals aged 18 to 59 who are at high-risk developing severe Covid-19 in event of an infection, and medical frontliners, are eligible for their second booster dose (ie the fourth dose for those who had two-dose vaccines for their primary series like vaccines from Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Sinovac).

They are eligible after at least six months have elapsed after their first booster dose, and after consulting any registered medical practitioner.

“The Health Ministry urges all eligible individuals to come forward for these services so Malaysia’s population can get optimum protection against Covid-19,” Khairy said.

Last week, the minister predicted that the next Covid-19 wave will come in the next two or three months and urged all eligible persons to get their second booster shot.

Two days later, he reportedly noted a rise in Covid-19 cases and said the next wave may come sooner than expected.

This comes as a resurgence of Covid-19 cases is reported in several countries driven by newer Omicron subvariants such as the BA.4 and BA.5, which appear to be able to evade some immunity from previous Covid-19 infections such as the BA.1 Omicron subvariant that dominated earlier this year.

The first cases of BA.5 were reported in Malaysia early this month. According to the genetic data repository Gisaid, they were from samples collected on May 16. - Mkini

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