PUTRAJAYA, June 30 — The government will reconsider its previous decision to administer the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to adolescents, following reports of incidents of side effects relating to heart inflammation, especially among male recipients.
National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme Coordinating Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin, said that his party, together with the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Ministry of Education (MOE), would hold a meeting to discuss the issue.
“We are monitoring developments regarding these side effects but it does not change our acquisition decision regarding Pfizer.
“It’s just that it has to do with the decision on whether we want to administer Pfizer to teenagers because the incidence of heart inflammation among the group is quite high,” he said in a press conference on the development of the immunisation programme today, which was also attended by Health Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba.
Khairy said that the issue regarding the side effects of the Pfizer vaccine had been presented by the Special Committee on COVID-19 Vaccine Supply Access Guarantee to him and Dr Adham.
Recently, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) planned to update the guidelines for administering Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to adolescents and young people, after discovering the possible risk of heart inflammation.
The government, on June 21, approved the administration of the Pfizer vaccine to children aged 12 and above.
Asked whether the government planned to speed up the interval of receiving the second dose of AstraZeneca vaccine from 12 weeks to six weeks, especially for the elderly, he said the matter would be announced tomorrow.
Khairy, who is also the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, said that the government was still considering the ‘mix and match’ method of the two types of COVID-19 vaccine.
“For now, you will be given the same second dose as your first dose. For AstraZeneca, the second dose will also be AstraZeneca,” he said.
Meanwhile, when asked to comment on Health director-general, Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah’s tweet on the effectiveness of AstraZeneca and Sinovac vaccines against Delta variant of concern (VOC), Khairy said that thus far all COVID-19 vaccines used in Malaysia were still able to protect individuals from COVID-19 variants.
“Although there may be differences in terms of the effectiveness of the vaccine against VOC Delta, it (vaccine) still protects you. Hence, whatever vaccine you are offered, please take that vaccine. Vaccines (that) we are administering, will give you protection against the VOC,” he said.
Dr Noor Hisham, in a tweet earlier today, said that one dose of Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine only provides around 33 per cent protection against symptoms from Delta variant; two doses provide between 88 per cent (Pfizer) and 60 per cent (AstraZeneca) protection against symptoms.
In another development, Khairy said that the country’s vaccination rate continued to increase, and was consistent with the average vaccinations administered over the past week (June 21-27), with an increase of 19 per cent compared with the previous week (June 14-20).
“This shows the consistency in the vaccination rate, which is currently being intensified,” he said, adding that on Thursday the country reached a new record, of 268,604 shots administered in a day.
In another development, Khairy said that a special unit is being set up in collaboration with the COVID-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) and the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM), to investigate complaints regarding sales of vaccines and follow-up appointments.
“I’ve spoken to police, and they are setting up a special unit or team to work together with CITF to investigate these claims,” he said.
Khairy said that he had also asked the police to act immediately and arrest individuals found selling vaccine doses and appointment slots under the immunisation programme.
The CITF lodged two police reports, on June 14 and 20, as a result of public complaints about alleged vaccine sales activities.