Eyeing 90pc, health minister tells senior citizens to get boosted against Covid-19 before ‘balik kampung’ for Raya

·4-min read
People receive their Covid-19 booster shot at the KL Gateway Mall in Kuala Lumpur January 5, 2022. — File picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
People receive their Covid-19 booster shot at the KL Gateway Mall in Kuala Lumpur January 5, 2022. — File picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, April 16 ― Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin is calling on all senior citizens to go for their Covid-19 booster dose to be better protected against Covid-19 before going home for the Hari Raya Puasa holidays.

The minister said currently, about 77 per cent of the senior citizens in the country have received their booster dose but the ministry hopes to see 90 per cent or more receive the dose.

"It is very important for the senior citizens to get the booster dose to protect them because this is the first Raya in two years where everyone can cross borders, everyone will be going home, risks of infection will be higher," he said in a press conference aired on Facebook live during a working visit in Kuala Terengganu today.

He said the ministry's initial target for booster dose uptake was 70 per cent and they have reached the target.

"If possible, we want to achieve 90 per cent or more, we need this to protect them from the high risk of infection," he said.

He explained that the Omicron variant may seem mild for most people, where they can recover at home, but for senior citizens and those with comorbidities, it could be serious and lead to them being admitted into the intensive care unit (ICU), being intubated or placed on ventilators.

“When everyone balik kampung, some will test but some won’t test, we won’t know if they bring back the virus to the senior citizens back home.

“And at home, they will not wear masks so it is very high-risk for them, this is what we are worried about,” Khairy said.

He said his ministry anticipates there will be a hike in Covid-19 cases after the Raya holidays and is bracing for hospitalisation.

“As we have mentioned in the last two to three days, senior citizens with chronic diseases and have already gotten their booster doses, may also get their fourth dose as protection,” he said.

He said the dispensing of booster dose is still continuing at the respective designated PPVs with about 7,000 to 8,000 receiving the booster dose daily.

“In Terengganu, about 46.3 per cent have received their booster dose but we hope more will come forward before Raya,” he said.

He said only about 50 per cent of the senior citizens in Terengganu have received their booster dose while the other half have not.

“They need to come forward to get their booster dose now, you can’t say you are not going anywhere so you don’t need it because your family and relatives are coming back home for Raya,” he said.

On National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme for Kids (PICKids), Khairy said only 13 per cent of the children in Terengganu have received the vaccine.

“It is the second lowest in the country, the lowest is in Kelantan,” he said.

He called on parents to sign up their children for PICKids before the deadline on May 15.

He said there are PPVs in schools and yet, many parents have refused to give permission for their children to be vaccinated.

“We have shared the figures on the side effects of PICKids and a majority of the side effects are mild, only one or two needed treatment and they have been fully treated without issues,” he said.

He stressed that all side effects were treatable and the children have fully recovered.

“There are more good than bad when it comes to the Covid-19 vaccine for children,” he said.

He said most parents are aware of PICKids and know about the deadline but they still refused to register their children for it.

“We have explained but if they don’t want it, we can’t force them,” he said.

When asked about whether the movements of those who are non-vaccinated will continue to be restricted, he said those who have not received their initial two doses will still not be allowed to dine in at eateries, enter shopping malls and travel overseas.

“However, almost the whole population, 99 per cent, have already received the initial two doses, so the number of non-vaccinated is very low,” he said.

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