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More engagement needed to engage vaccination ‘fence sitters’

KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry is determined to educate between 15 to 17 per cent of Malaysians who are “on the fence” about vaccinations.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said this target was needed in order to achieve herd immunity against Covid-19.

He said about 70 to 80 per cent of the population must be vaccinated when it comes to the virus.

“There are still those who are doubtful about vaccination. Even though it is not mandatory, we are looking into achieving the herd immunity target.

“There should be more engagement sessions held with the people who are ‘on the fence’ about vaccination.

“If they have any issues, questions or even doubts, they can pose a question to the ministry’s hotline. The media also plays a role in convincing this group,” he said during the virtual ‘Covid-19 State of Emergency’ engagement session organised by the Health Ministry with the media yesterday.

Dr Noor Hisham said Malaysia can refer to other countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States to convince those who were hesitant to accept Covid-19 vaccines.

“About 15 million people in the UK have been vaccinated and there were very minor reports of side effects.

“On the anti-vaxxers, we decided to follow the World Health Organisation (WHO), which is to ignore them seeing they only comprise about five per cent of the country’s population.

“It is more crucial to focus on the 15 to 17 per cent of the population who are on the fence in this mater, and to educate them on the vaccine,” he said.

Earlier during the session, Health Ministry Institute for Clinical Research director, Dr Kalaiarasu Peariasamy said district health offices will note the medical history of individuals before administering the vaccines in order to avoid complications.

Dr Kalaiarasu said among the possible side effects from the Covid-19 vaccine were allergic reactions known as anaphylaxis.

“There were known severe allergic reactions or anaphylaxis risks from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.

“The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine found 49 cases based on 9.9 million doses with 76 per cent allergy reaction occurring within 15 minutes.

“Moderna recorded 19 cases of allergy reaction from 7.6 million doses with 84 per cent anaphylaxis occurring within 15 minutes of injection,” he said.

Both Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines are based on the mRNA (messenger RNA) sequence, which will be inserted into individual cells to produce specific protein viruses.

Health Ministry Disease Control Centre head of sector (Public Health expert) Dr Mohd Hanif Zailani said all vaccine recipients must be assessed by a health officer to ensure that no allergic reaction will occur.

“The health officers will be in charge of identifying the recipient’s allergy condition and the officer can suggest another form of the Covid-19 vaccine instead,” he said.

Source: New Straits Times

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