The public should not hesitate to take a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot, especially the second dose, to protect themselves from the risk of severe disease.
According to health experts, the monovalent vaccine is still relevant and is one of the effective instruments to prevent the spread of COVID-19, especially among high-risk groups.
For Assoc Prof Dr Sharifah Faridah Syed Omar, an infectious disease expert from the Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Malaya, booster doses still have a role, even if they cannot prevent infection as quickly as before.
“When we get our booster shots, our antibodies will increase even if not at the desired levels. However, we cannot deny that our antibodies will also drop quickly but at least, in that short period, they can protect us from getting infected.
“As such, this booster dose can still provide protection and help curb the spread of infections,” she told Bernama when contacted.
Previously, Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa urged those who received their first booster dose more than six months ago to get a second booster shot and not wait for the bivalent vaccines.
Elaborating, Dr Sharifah Faridah said the public should ensure that any information on the booster dose is obtained from an authentic source, especially regarding its side effects, to avoid confusion and further cause fear and anxiety.
“Any treatment or medicine available now has its side effects. The difference is whether the side effects are serious and how often they occur,” she said.
Based on data on the KKMNOW portal as of 11.59 pm yesterday, a total of 16,296,721, or 49.9 per cent, of the country’s population has received their first booster dose, while only 757,464 or 2.3 per cent, chose to take the second booster shot.
Meanwhile, consultant paediatrician Datuk Dr Amar Singh HSS opined that any discussion on the need to get COVID-19 vaccine booster doses should weigh the pros and cons to the people.
“The decision to get a booster should consider several issues such as exposure risk, your protection level at the workplace or when meeting others, age, health conditions and your initial response to vaccines.
“Hence the decision to get a booster (dose) is up to an individual. However, if you are older, have high exposure risk and health comorbidities, it would be wise to get a booster dose,” he said.
Sharing the same sentiment, Prof Datuk Dr Lokman Hakim Sulaiman, a Fellow of the Academy of Science Malaysia, recommends those who are likely to experience a severe infection to get the booster dose.
“I have taken both booster doses. (And) with the emergence of new variants that seem to spread more easily despite not causing severe symptoms, the booster dose is imperative,” he said. – Bernama