Despite Covid-19 being under control in the country, vaccines still play an important role in keeping the infections in check, says Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.
In the latest update, Khairy said the government plans to purchase updated vaccines tailored against new strains as well as doses for children under the age of 5.
He said the updated vaccines will also be made available to high-risk groups such as the elderly and those with serious comorbidities. As for children under 5, it will only be offered to those immunocompromised and chronically ill toddlers.
According to The Star, Khairy will share more information on the matter once the Health Ministry (KKM) decided on the procurement process.
“The technical working group has decided that it will be offered to children under five who are immuno-compromised and with chronic illness,” he said.
Khairy also said that the vaccines will be free.
“As the numbers are likely not to be so big for children under five, we will give it through the Health Ministry’s paediatrics department and pass it to private hospitals,” he said.
Meanwhile, Khairy said there are about 4 million doses of Covid-19 in excess and they will expire at the end of this year. Thus, he said his ministry is discussion with vaccine manufacturers to check if existing orders could be changed to the updated formula.
“We have an existing order with Pfizer; we didn’t use our full existing order. We also have our existing order with Covid-19 Global Vaccine Access (Covax) which we didn’t use fully.”
“Meaning, we bought more than we needed. We are trying to change the order from the old formula to the new one.”
“So far it looks possible, so we may not be spending much more,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Khairy indicated that the new vaccines would be restricted to the high-risk category as people might experience “vaccine fatigue”.
He said that given that Covid-19 in the country is under control, there is no need for another large-scale vaccination drive.
Khairy added that the data showed that the lower-risk population, such as those in the younger age brackets, were sufficiently protected with their initial Covid-19 jabs and booster.