Khairy: Get second booster, those aged 50 to 59

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The Health Ministry has opened the second booster vaccination shots for Covid-19 to residents who have no comorbidities.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin encouraged those in the age group to enhance their health protection for taking the second booster shots, saying they are the third risk group after those in the above-60 age group and those with comorbidities.

“Today, I would like to announce that healthy individuals aged 50 to 59 can be given a second dose of the vaccine if they choose to do so for protection from severe risk,” he announced in the Dewan Rakyat this morning.

Khairy was responding to Kota Samarahan MP Datuk Rubiah Wang who asked the minister for an update on new Covid-19 variants and what the government is doing about it.

Khairy said the second booster shots are now also available to individuals running businesses or want to travel abroad.

So far, a total of 225,848 people in the permitted groups have received a second booster dose, he added.

Previously, the fourth dose was only available to those above 60, and anyone who had comorbidities, as well as those who are leaving for a foreign country.

Yesterday, the ministry said the number of new Covid-19 cases had increased from 21,355 to 26,355, or 23.4%, last week from the week before.

The current spike in cases is due to the BA.5 variant, which is a sublineage of the Omicron variant, said Khairy.

It is more infectious than other Omicron sub-variants, and has a higher resistance to antibodies created by vaccines, he added.

Meanwhile, asked whether the government would reintroduce SOPs to curb the spread of Covid-19, the minister reiterated that this would be considered if the number of cases continues to escalate.

However, he expressed confidence that the public would self-regulate themselves to help bring cases down.

Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said in his update for the week ending July 16 that the number of Covid-19 patients admitted to public hospitals and quarantine centres had also increased.

The number of admissions rose by 33% per 100,000 people compared to the preceding week, while overall bed occupancy for non-critical cases increased by 2% and utilisation of intensive care unit (ICU) beds rose by 3%.