Booster Jabs: Yay Or Nay?

By June Ramli

After mulling for month, I finally got myself fully vaccinated. Don’t get me wrong, I am not an anti-vaxxer.
I have been vaccinated with numerous vaccines since I was a child but this time it was different.
I was initially perplexed as to why many people were against the vaccine and it was my schoolmate Shobanam Batumalai who gave me the much-needed explanation.
“It is because it is a man-made disease (lah), that is why (people don’t want to get the jabs),” she told me in one of our Whatsapp conversations.
But I put my trust in science and got it anyway even though I hate needles and getting injections. I had to relent otherwise I know my life would be very difficult moving forward.
Now that I have been fully vaccinated, I have to deal with another conundrum on whether I should get the booster jab or not.
For me, I have deemed it as unnecessary.
I am only gonna stick with the basics for now, being doubled jab is enough for the government of the day to accord me with the freedoms that I had been used to pre-pandemic era. So, I don’t think I’ll be getting the booster jab anytime soon.
You still can get COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated so what is the point of a booster jab.
Recently, my former collegemate was hospitalised with a severe bout of COVID-19 infection despite being fully vaccinated.
His condition was so bad that we all decided to meet on Zoom just to pray for his well being.

COVID-19 new norm by June Ramli

After several weeks of fighting for his life and living on the edge, he is now out of the woodworks and is on the road to recovery.
So, booster or not, it does not make a difference, as you can still get COVID despite being fully vaccinated.
What stops one from getting the disease, I believe, is for you to never let your guard down and by that I mean always practising the standard operating procedure of staying 1.5 metres away from another individual, washing your hands frequently and using the face masks whenever possible.
This is what stops you from getting infected with this dreaded disease.
However, one doctor does not hold my view and is encouraging people to get the additional jabs.
Monash University Malaysia’s Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences Dr Vinod Balasubramaniam.
“Evidence from around the world has demonstrated that booster doses significantly increase immunity against currently circulating strains, predominantly the Delta strain,” Dr Balasubramaniam.
“Vaccine makers are also looking at possibilities of creating a pan coronavirus vaccine which will give broad protection against the majority of strains in the future.
“It is expected to work better than vaccines for the flu.

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“This is because coronaviruses don’t have the same mutational rate as the flu virus which needs tweaking every year depending on the dominant strain during flu season.
“As we head into the endemic phase, we are likely to need booster shots for both COVID-19 and flu viruses each year.
“Depending on how much the coronavirus mutates and changes, it may be rolled into one.”
Dr Balasubramaniam said the current recommendation is to take booster doses six months after the second dose.
While Israel has run with a five-month gap, the US plans to wait eight months between them.
On rapid tests, Monash University, Head of the Infectious Disease Epidemiology Unit, Professor Karin Leder said they were likely to be used to reduce the chances of an asymptomatic person inadvertently spreading the COVID-19 virus such as by entering a workplace, visiting a public area, or undertaking travel.

A health care worker injects a dose of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine into a patient during a mass vaccination drive inside Aceh Baiturrahman Grand Mosque, in Banda Aceh, Indonesia.EPA-EFE/HOTLI SIMANJUNTAK
A health care worker injects a dose of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine into a patient during a mass vaccination drive inside Aceh Baiturrahman Grand Mosque, in Banda Aceh, Indonesia.EPA-EFE/HOTLI SIMANJUNTAK

“They need to be used as an additional layer of protection, not instead of other public health measures,” she said.
“Rapid antigen tests can have false-negative results, so while they reduce the chances that someone who tests negative has an active COVID-19 infection, they do not eliminate the risk.
“Therefore, a negative test must not be seen as a green light to abandon other measures such as social distancing and masking.
“There can also be false-positive results on antigen testing, so any positive result needs to be confirmed with a PCR test.
“Overall, particularly in high-risk settings, use of rapid tests may provide an extra measure of reassurance, but the results must always be put in the right context for interpretation,” she concluded.
At the time of writing, booster shots were not made mandatory in Australia and Malaysia.

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