Sinovac vaccine recipients and those above the age of 60 will need to get their COVID-19 booster shots by February 2022 to maintain their fully vaccinated status
In a press conference today, 16 December, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said those over 18 years old who received two Sinovac doses and fully vaccinated individuals over 60, regardless of their primary vaccine brand, should take their booster shots by February next year, or they will have their fully vaccinated privileges withdrawn.
"If [they do not get the booster by then], then their MySejahtera status will turn white, which indicates that you are not fully vaccinated," he said.
Khairy announced that the move is among the government's additional measures to prevent a COVID-19 wave caused by the Omicron variant
According to New Straits Times, he said booster doses are crucial against the Omicron variant as many new studies have suggested that both naturally-acquired immunity from COVID-19 infections and immunity derived from primary vaccination does not offer adequate protection.
"A recent study from Kyoto University found that the Omicron variant is four times more infectious than the Delta variant and has a higher transmissibility rate," he said.
"Another study from South Africa found that the Pfizer vaccine's effectiveness in preventing infections caused by Omicron reduced by 30%. Hong Kong University, meanwhile, found that two doses of the Sinovac vaccine is unable to produce enough neutralising antibodies against Omicron."
The Health Minister said the COVID-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) is also discussing the shortening of interval periods between primary vaccination and booster doses for all vaccines
He said the outcome of the discussion will be announced soon.
Meanwhile, for other measures to prevent an Omicron wave, Khairy said mega vaccination centres (PPVs) will be reopened to expedite administration of booster doses.
The reopening of mega PPVs will first start in Klang Valley.
All large-scale New Year celebrations will also not be allowed, he announced. However, small and private Christmas and New Year celebrations may be held if all guests are screened for COVID-19 with self-tests before the party.
"More countries will also be listed as high-risk countries (based on their Omicron transmission rates) and travellers from these countries will be fitted with digital trackers throughout their quarantine period," he added.
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