Expert: Weigh your own risk for Covid-19 second booster


MOST countries are guarding up again due to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in China. The Malaysian government has urged the public to get a second booster shot after two main variants in China, BA 5.2 and BF.7, were detected in the country early this year. Both variants are a sub-lineage of the Omicron variant.

Professor Dr Moy Foong Ming, Epidemiology and Public Health expert from the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, recently shared her take on the second booster dose with The Petri Dish.

Although there has been a reduction in daily cases and death rates, vulnerable people such as the elderly, those with comorbidities (i.e., diabetes mellitus, hypertension, heart disease etc.) and immunocompromised individuals, are still at higher risk of severe symptoms for Covid-19 and have higher chances of developing fatal complications if they are infected.

“Weigh your own risk,” Moy advised individuals who are contemplating taking the second booster dose by assessing their risks, such as exposure to the public, travel, and their age as well as health conditions. The higher the risk the more severe the infection can be.

“Currently, only less than 5% of the elderly population has received the second booster shot. It is important for the elderly group people to be protected by having updated vaccination shots because the effectiveness of the vaccine reduces after six months,” said the public health expert.

“Since there is a decline in cases and death rates, the public is hesitant for their second booster shot. According to surveys, side effects from the vaccine is one of the factors for the public to be reluctant,” noted Moy.

“Although the vaccine has side effects it usually only lasts for a few days. Vaccination reduces the severity of Covid -19 symptoms and prevents long Covid, thus taking second boosters is highly encouraged, especially for the high-risk individuals,” added Moy.

She said individuals who suffer from severe acute Covid are most likely to develop long Covid, which includes experiencing a wide range of severe symptoms, such as brain fog, lethargy, and difficulty breathing, that lasts more than three months after being infected.

Researchers found that patients infected with the Omicron variant have a 50% lower chance of experiencing long Covid due to milder symptoms compared to the Delta variant. One in five survivors of the Delta variant had long Covid.

Moy also warned that Omicron should not be taken lightly as multiple infections of Covid-19 causes long Covid too.

To a question, if Covid -19 is over, she said that the virus will co-exist with humans. Even if the symptoms are mild but people tend to get infected more easily. The Covid-19 management mechanism has to be similar to dengue management as usually if there is a dengue outbreak preventive measures will be implemented immediately to bring the situation under control.

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