Do recovered Covid-19 patients need to also be vaccinated?

KUALA LUMPUR, 23 Feb 2021:

The Health Ministry (MoH) will assess the need of Covid-19 patients who have recovered to receive vaccination against the virus, said Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

He said the antibodies generated by former patients – who experienced level one to level three of the infection with mild or no symptoms – might not be sufficient to fight against the virus. Therefore, they might need to be vaccinated.

“If the infection was at level four or five, the generated antibodies would be more permanent and higher, but we will assess the matter.”

Malaysia will create history by rolling out the country’s biggest vaccination exercise ever, known as the National Covid-19 Vaccination Programme tomorrow, two days ahead of schedule.

Dr Noor Hisham will be among the first individuals to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine after Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to mark the programme launch.

He said the programme launch would also mark the beginning of the end of the spread of the Covid-19 virus in the country, by protection from the inside via vaccination.

This is in addition to external protection through compliance with all preventive measures and control of public health as well as adherence to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) set to curb the spread of the deadly virus.

“Alhamdulillah … we as health workers can only make effort and do our level best (to curb the spread of the infection) and put our trust in Allah SWT.”

Muhyiddin is scheduled to receive the first vaccine injection at the Putrajaya Health Centre in Presint 11 at 3pm tomorrow and will be followed by a health worker from MOH, Dr Noor Hisham, and another MoH staff.

Recipients will be inoculated with two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, and the second dose will be given 21 days after the first shot.

Citizens all over the world, including Malaysians, have been encouraged to take the Covid-19 vaccine to create herd immunity and finally put an end to the pandemic.

However, there are exceptions, as some categories of people are not encouraged to take the vaccine shots, while others are totally not allowed to be vaccinated, including with the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine known as COMIRNATY.

According to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section on the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) website about the COMIRNATY vaccine, individuals who are immunocompromised, autoimmune patients, pregnant women or those breastfeeding are among those not recommended to take the vaccine.

This is because currently there is insufficient clinical evidence to support the use of the vaccine among those groups, but that may change after more clinical data is obtained.

“The COMIRNATY vaccine clinical trials also did not involve pregnant women or those breastfeeding … as there is no data on the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine on that population, they are discouraged from taking the vaccine until further information is obtained,” according to the NPRA.

The COMIRNATY vaccine also cannot be given to individuals with allergic reaction to any substance in the vaccine – including messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA), lipids, polyethylene glycol, potassium chloride, potassium dihydrogen phosphate, sodium chloride, disodium phosphate dihydrate and sucrose.

In addition, the second dose should not be given to individuals suffering from serious allergic reactions after the receiving the first dose, said the NPRA.

“Please seek a doctor’s advice if you have any form of allergy, bleeding problems, or are taking any blood thinners, if you are undergoing or have just completed cancer treatment, an organ transplant or stem cell treatment.

“Also if you have been infected with Covid-19, have received other Covid-19 vaccines, either through an immunisation programme or as a subject in a Covid-19 clinical test, or have received passive antibody treatment for Covid-19,” NPRA added.

The vaccine, which has been approved by the Drug Control Authority (DCA), is currently for individuals who are 18 years and above.

“This is due to insufficient data to determine the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine on those 18 years and below … that is why children under 18 cannot be provided immunisation until further data is obtained.”

Meanwhile, Malaysian Pharmacists Society president Amrahi Buang said the public should rely on and only trust information on the NPRA website, and not believe rumours or speculation from other countries.

He said the NPRA always updates and amends the COMIRNATY vaccine FAQ section with new information about the vaccine as soon as it has obtained the latest information, either from Pfizer itself, or from the sharing of global data with other countries.

“So the public is advised not to come to their own conclusions … it is better to let expert doctors make the decision whether or not to take the vaccine during vaccination day because there are many different diseases with varying levels of severity.

“Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin for example, although he is a cancer survivor he will take the vaccination shot because his doctor said he can.”

Regarding Sinovac, he said although the China vaccine will arrive on Feb 27, information about the vaccine has yet to be made available on the NPRA website as it has not been registered in the country.

“The vaccine will arrive in the country in bulk before the ‘fill and finish’ process is completed in the factory owned by Pharmaniaga here; only then can they apply to register with the NPRA so that the DCA can issue a conditional registration.”

Malaysian Public Health Physicians Association president Datuk Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar meanwhile said those without any critical or serious illness should not be afraid to take the vaccine as it is safe.

“The shots are not simply given; the doctor will evaluate the risk and question and check the medical history as well as any allergies before making a decision whether the vaccine is suitable or not.

“For pregnant women, for example, there are experts who think that if it’s in the third trimester, the vaccine can be taken … that is why it is better to discuss with the doctor to be sure … that is best.”

– Bernama