PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – There has been a 51 per cent increase in the number of people being vaccinated over the last two weeks in Malaysia, as new Omicron sub-variants create fears of another Covid-19 wave.

According to figures from ProtectHealth, vaccination went up from 38,822 during the week of June 27-July 3 to 50,774 during the week of July 4-July 10, a 31 per cent increase.

From the week of July 11-July 17, there was a 51 per cent increase to 76,433.

As infections and hospitalisations rise across the country, health experts are also calling for Malaysians, especially those over 60 as well as the medically vulnerable, to get their second booster shot.

This is because the Omicron sub-variants are highly contagious and can bypass immunity from a past infection or vaccination.

Public health expert Prof Dr Moy Foong Ming of Universiti Malaya said the Omicron sub-variant BA.5 could evade antibody responses in people with previous Covid-19 infection and those who had been fully vaccinated and boosted.

Reinfections may be inevitable but boosters will help provide protection against severe symptoms, hospitalisation and even death.

“Even though the BA.5 does not seem to cause more severe symptoms compared to BA.1 and BA.2, the elderly and vulnerable groups will likely experience severe symptoms,” Prof Moy said.

She cautioned that if the total caseload increases tremendously, even with a low percentage of hospitalisation, the number will be a huge burden on the healthcare system.

“We don’t want to lose precious lives if it can be prevented,” she said.

For those below 60, it may not be necessary to take the second booster at this moment.

“If this group of individuals had received their third dose, they should be well protected from severe symptoms,” said Prof Moy.

“When new vaccines are able to bring a stronger immune response against all new variants, then a second booster may be offered to all.”