PETALING JAYA: Negative reports, incomplete understanding of the AstraZeneca vaccine and fear may turn away some elderly folk from being vaccinated, a health policy analyst said.
Azrul Mohd Khalib, chief executive of the Galen Centre, said the fear of the vaccine was mostly based on ill-informed or incomplete understanding about a blood clot problem among some AstraZeneca recipients.
“Due to the negative news and debate surrounding this vaccine, there will be many who might not want to get their jabs, there will be no-shows or some may not even bother to register to be vaccinated,” he said.
Malaysian Medical Association president Dr Subramaniam Muniandy said: “We need to emphasise that those most at risk of adverse events are not the elderly or vulnerable groups. They are the young.
“This is why some countries are not giving it to those below 55. In the UK, those below 30 are not being given the AstraZeneca vaccine.”
The government has announced that those aged over 60 years would be given the AstraZeneca vaccine in the second phase of the national immunisation campaign.
Younger people would not receive the vaccine because of reports of a blood clot complication.
Azrul said “the odds of getting blood clots are actually a lot higher in taking contraceptive pills than in taking this vaccine”.
Former deputy health minister Dr Lee Boon Chye suggested that use of the AstraZeneca vaccine be delayed by at least three months until an alternative is made available.
“By then, we would have more data coming out of the use of the vaccine in the UK and European Union,” he told FMT.
However, Azrul said: “If the AstraZeneca vaccine were to be offered to me, I would be willing to take the vaccine.”
He said he trusted the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency which had made the decision to approve the vaccine.
He said “the science and data are fairly clear. It is important for people to know that this is a safe and effective vaccine”.
Subramaniam said the government must clearly communicate and clarify the “minimal risks” that come with the vaccine.
He said private doctors could quickly treat cases of thrombosis if they happened, now that they were aware of the possible side effect.
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