As we wait anxiously for the COVID-19 vaccine to arrive on our shores, some countries around the world have started their vaccination programmes.
While the aftereffects have been generally good, there are some red flags that need to be taken care of first.
Too risky for the old?
The Ministry of Health is set to conduct a little bit more research on the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine first before deeming it safe for public use, especially for the elderly.
This came after Norway reported 23 deaths
among those aged 80 and above who took the vaccination.
According to the Norwegian Medicines Agency, the autopsies on 13 bodies revealed that common side effects may have contributed to severe reactions in frail, elderly people.
Following the deaths, health authorities in Norway have warned that COVID-19 vaccines may be too risky for those who are very frail or too old.
As such, Minister of Health Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba said in a statement quoted by Malay Mail
that the Ministry is now collecting more data to take into consideration the age and health of the patients when disseminating the vaccine.
“With reference to reports released by the Norwegian Medicines Agency, the deaths were among the elderly and sickly with a history of chronic disease.
“Autopsies showed that the recipients of the vaccine suffered fever, purging and nausea which are normal adverse reactions after receiving immunisation," he said in the statement.
Therefore, the Ministry will be updating their vaccination information to take into account the person’s age and health history, Dr Adham said.
What you need to know about the Pfizer vaccine
As some countries around the world have already started rolling out the Pfizer vaccine, there are still some concerns about the effectiveness of the vaccine.
Here are some of the things you need to know about the vaccine:
Who developed the vaccine?
The COVID-19 vaccine that we'll be getting in Malaysia in February was designed and developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. Pfizer is an American firm and one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies while BioNTech is a German biotechnology company dedicated to the development and manufacture of active immunotherapies.
How does the vaccine work?
In layman's term, the Pzifer vaccine trains our immune system to fight the coronavirus. It is a new type of vaccine called RNA where it uses a tiny fragment of the virus' genetic code so that our immune system can learn to recognise its traits and begin to attack it. It's literally fighting fire with fire.
How effective is the vaccine?
Pfizer and BioNTech's clinical results have shown that vaccine to be 95 per cent effective. Even in worse case scenarios, it is said to be 90 per cent effective.
How many doses of the vaccine do we actually need?
According to Pzifer, we need two doses of the vaccine for it to be most effective. The dosages are given three weeks apart.
How long does it take for our body to build immunity?
It typically takes a few weeks for our body to build immunity after vaccination. Pfizer warned that it is still possible for an individual to contract COVID-19 before or right after receiving a vaccination as your body did not have enough time to develop immunity.
Is the vaccine safe?
According to the US Food & Drug Administration
, none of the 43,448 participants in the trial recorded any safety concerns or any enhanced disease after receiving the vaccination.
Will there be any side effects?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
, a patient may experience mild side effects such as a sore arm, tiredness, headache and chills. The symptoms, said the CDC, will go away by itself within a few days.