Now that the Sinovac booster dose has been approved, can you get it?
If you can’t get it yet, should you WAIT to get a Sinovac booster dose instead of other vaccines?
Updated @ 2021-11-17 : Added Sinovac booster dose approval and updated advice on a Sinovac booster dose.
Updated @ 2021-11-12 : Added more information on Sinovac vaccine efficacy and advice on a Sinovac booster dose.
Originally published @ 2021-11-10
Can You Get The Sinovac Booster Dose?
Malaysia started the COVID-19 vaccine booster dose programme on 13 October 2021, targeting those who received the Pfizer vaccine, before being expanded on 22 October 2021 to those who received the Sinovac vaccine.
Since then, many people have been asking if they can get a booster dose of the Sinovac vaccine instead.
The updated answer is SOON, but not yet.
On 17 November 2021, the Malaysia Drug Control Authority (DCA) approved the Sinovac and AstraZeneca booster doses for homologous vaccination.
That means Sinovac and AstraZeneca booster doses will be given to those who earlier received Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines respectively.
However, this does NOT mean the Sinovac booster dose is immediately available.
The COVID-19 Immunisation Task Force – Booster (CITF-B) will be targeting specific groups to receive these booster doses, which will be detailed later.
Right now, the COVID-19 Booster Dose programme in Malaysia continues to use the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Even people vaccinated with Sinovac will receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine as a booster dose.
If you had earlier received the Sinovac vaccine, and are open to receive the Pfizer booster dose, I highly recommend you get yourself on the standby list ASAP.
If CITF-B eventually decides to give only homologous vaccinations for Sinovac, you will lose your chance to get the Pfizer booster dose.
My advice remains the same – don’t wait for the Sinovac booster dose. Get the Pfizer booster dose if it is offered to you.
It is FAR MORE EFFECTIVE, and gives you a big boost in protection, especially if you received the Sinovac vaccine earlier.
Should You Get The Sinovac Booster Dose?
The Malaysia Health Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin, mentioned earlier that people with severe allergies, or who have suffered an allergic reaction to the Pfizer vaccine earlier, may be offered a booster shot of the Sinovac or AstraZeneca vaccine instead.
Now that the Sinovac vaccine has been approved as a booster dose, should you WAIT to get it?
That very much depends on a number of factors.
Are You Allergic To The Pfizer Vaccine?
If you are allergic to the Pfizer vaccine, then you definitely cannot receive a booster dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
You will have to get a booster dose of other vaccine types – viral vector vaccines like AstraZeneca or Sputnik V, or inactivated virus vaccines like Sinovac or Sinopharm.
But with so many better vaccine options available out there, Sinovac CoronaVac should be your last choice, not your first.
Are There Better Options?
If you are given the option to switch to Pfizer or AstraZeneca, you should definitely opt for either one over the Sinovac CoronaVac vaccine.
Of all the WHO approved vaccines, Sinovac CoronaVac is the least efficacious COVID-19 vaccine, offering just over 50% efficacy against symptomatic COVID-19.
And that was before it was tested against the highly-infectious Delta variant.
In June 2021, Chinese CDC deputy director Dr. Feng Zijian admitted that their inactivated virus vaccines are “less effective” against the Delta variant.
While Sinovac has tried to push their booster dose as a way to shore up the CoronaVac’s efficacy against the Delta variant, it would be foolish to assume that it offers anything more than a temporary boost in relatively ineffective antibodies.
Even China is moving to use mRNA booster doses for those who received Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines, with their own mRNA vaccine called ARCoVAX entering mass production soon.
Sinovac / Sinopharm Should Require Three Doses Minimum
On 12 October 2021, WHO experts recommended that those over 60 who received the Sinovac or Sinopharm’s vaccines should be given a third shot.
They notably refrained from calling it a booster dose, suggesting instead that they should be administered as three doses, instead of the recommended two doses, for a primary series vaccine.
This was precisely the same policy adopted by Singapore on 23 October 2021, when their Ministry of Health declared that three doses of the Sinovac vaccine will be REQUIRED for a person to be considered fully-vaccinated.
In other words – two doses isn’t enough to be considered fully-vaccinated for these inactivated virus vaccines. They have to be taken as three doses MINIMUM.
Even Malaysia’s RECoVaM data show that the Sinovac CoronaVac vaccine is comparatively weak, allowing significantly more breakthrough infections that result in ICU care and deaths.
If you still feel that you prefer to get three Sinovac vaccine doses, instead of using a different vaccine – that’s fine. It is better than not getting a booster shot at all.
The key thing is to GET PROTECTED against COVID-19, by getting fully-vaccinated. If that means three doses of Sinovac, so be it.
My advice remains the same as it did earlier this year. Don’t wait – get the first vaccine (or booster dose) you are offered!
Read more : Why COVID-19 Vaccine Efficacy Does NOT Matter!
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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.
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