The government will reconsider its previous decision to administer the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine to adolescents following reports of side effects related to heart inflammation, especially among male recipients.
National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme coordinating minister Khairy Jamaluddin said his party, together with the ministries of health and education, 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 at a press conference on the development of the immunisation programme today, which was also attended by Health Minister Dr Adham Baba.
Khairy said the issue of Pfizer’s side effects had been presented to him and Adham by the Special Committee on Covid-19 Vaccine Supply Access Guarantee.
The US Food and Drug Administration had planned to update the guidelines for administering the 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 shorten the interval between the first and second doses of AstraZeneca from 12 to six weeks, especially for the elderly, Khairy said an announcement would be made on the matter tomorrow.
Khairy, who is science, technology and innovation minister, also said the government was still considering the “mix and match” method for administering different brands of 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 Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah’s tweet on the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca and Sinovac vaccines against the Delta variant of concern (VoC), Khairy said so far all Covid-19 vaccines used in Malaysia are able to protect 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. The vaccines (that) we are administering will give you protection against the VoC,” he said.
Noor Hisham, in a tweet earlier today, said that one dose of Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine only provides around 33% protection against symptoms from the Delta variant while two doses provide between 88% (Pfizer) and 60% (AstraZeneca) protection against symptoms.
In another development, Khairy said the country’s vaccination rate was still increasing consistent with the average number of vaccine doses administered over the past week (June 21-27), with an increase of 19% 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.