The Sarawak state government has said that it won’t be allowing the practice of heterologous COVID-19 vaccinations — a practice of mixing and matching different brands of vaccines for booster purposes. State authorities say that for now, only those who previously received the Pfizer vaccine will be able to get booster shots.
The state clarified Pfizer is the only COVID-19 vaccine so far that has been approved as a booster shot, hence why only those who have received it for their initial doses will be eligible for the additional jab. This is despite the JKJAV and the Institute of Medical Research approving the mix-and-match method earlier this month. Dr Sim Kui Hian, state Disaster Management Committee adviser, said discussions about other vaccine brands are still ongoing at the Health Ministry.
On Wednesday, Sarawak became the first state to begin administering voluntary booster shots and third doses to those in high risk groups – including frontliners, the elderly, and the immunocompromised. Third doses will be given at least 28 days while boosters will be given after at least six months respectively after the second dose.
Sarawak state health deputy director Dr Rosemawati Ariffin said that there is an estimated 11,900 immunocompromised individuals eligible for a third dose. Meanwhile, she added that an estimated 80,300 senior citizens aged 60 and above, and 30,340 frontline medical workers will also be offered booster shots.
Boosters are additional doses given to those who initially had a sufficient immune response from their primary vaccinations but whose immunity might have gone down over time. On the other hand, third doses are given to those with compromised immune systems who did not gain a sufficient immune response from just two doses.