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COVID-19: MOH Expert Answers Vaccine FAQs

Feb 24, 2021

covid-19: moh expert answers vaccine faqs
Photo via AFP

In less than a week, registration will open for the general public to sign up to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Understandably, there are some who are nervous or concerned.  

To allay your fears and help you get a better understanding about the vaccine, Astro Radio News got in touch with Dr Vickneshwaran Muthu, Senior Principal Assistant Director, Zoonosis Sector, from the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) Disease Control Division. 

covid-19: moh expert answers vaccine faqs
Photo via Mingguan Wanita

Here’s what he had to say in response to some common questions. 

The vaccine is currently not compulsory, so why should Malaysians come forward to get immunized?  

Getting the vaccine is crucial to controlling the spread of the coronavirus. COVID-19 is a viral disease and currently has no cure or set form of treatment. This is where the vaccine comes in, it helps us develop an immunity against COVID-19.

What is this ‘herd immunity’ that people keep talking about? 

Basically speaking, herd immunity is getting a large portion of the population to develop an immunity against the virus. For example, once 70% or 80% of Malaysians are vaccinated, we would have developed herd immunity. This way, even if someone who is positive for COVID-19 enters the community, the virus cannot spread widely, because most people are already immune to it. 

There are some people who are concerned about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. What is your response? 

Malaysians can rest assured that the vaccine is safe. 

You see, any vaccine has to meet certain criteria before it can be approved. The first is safety – the drug has to be proven safe for use in humans. The second is effectiveness – it has to show that it can effectively develop an immunity in the recipient. The third criteria is the quality of the drug. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also set its own benchmark – requiring any COVID-19 vaccine to be at least 50% effective against the coronavirus. The vaccines procured by Malaysia all meet or exceed this benchmark. 

Why can’t the vaccine be administered to those under the age of 18? And what about pregnant women…is it safe for them? 

Under-18’s are not allowed to receive the vaccine simply because this group was not involved in the clinical trials. 

As for pregnant women, for now, it should be okay for them to be vaccinated, as long as they don’t have major health issues like hypertension or any immune diseases. But its best to check with their doctors just to be certain, and keep an eye out for the latest updates from MOH. 

Everyone who wants to receive the vaccine has to fill out a form and provide their medical history. What’s the purpose of this?  

This is actually a very crucial step, so make sure you fill out the form as accurately as possible. The people administering the vaccine need to know if you are allergic to anything or have any pre-existing medical conditions. This will help them determine if it is safe for you to receive the jab. 

Why do we have to remain at the vaccination center for 30 minutes after the jab? 

This period is used to monitor the recipient for any adverse reaction to the vaccine. Once it is clear that the recipient is responding well to the jab, they can go home.  

Dr. Vikneshwaran also hopes that all Malaysians trust the science behind the vaccine and understand that we all need to play our part in controlling the spread of the coronavirus by coming forward to get immunised. 

Meanwhile, you can find out how to register for the programme here.

And don’t forget to check out our other vaccine-related articles, as well as all things COVID-19.

by Nicholas Darren John