KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 20 (NNN-Bernama) — Members of the public in Malaysia are asked not to worry on getting COVID-19 vaccination despite allegations that the vaccines may cause side effects.
Health Ministry’s National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) senior principal assistant director Norleen Mohamed Ali said what happened in some countries was an adverse event following immunisation (AEFI) to COVID-19 vaccines.
It is not a side effect but just vaccination reactions such as swelling and pain on the injection site which are normal, she said.
Norleen said about 80 per cent of the recipients of the vaccine would experience such adverse effects, apart from a small percentage of those experiencing, among others, fever, headache, nausea, vomiting and even fatigue.
“These are common reactions to any vaccine because this is what we call reactogenicity. From there, we also find that there is a very small percentage and very rare adverse effects that we classify as worse or more serious,” she told a virtual media briefing on COVID-19 immunisation here.
Elaborating further, Norleen said in the context of the Comirnaty (Concentrate for Dispersion for Injection) vaccine which uses the Messenger RNA (mRNA) method for the COVID-19 vaccine, the adverse effects from taking the vaccine were coincidental.
“However, it’s difficult for us to know who will get this adverse effect because the analogy is the same as if we are allergic to food, if we don’t eat (the food that we are allergic to), we wouldn’t know. So, similar to taking medicines or vaccines, if you don’t take, we wouldn’t know,” she said.
Norleen said medicines and traditional products could also give allergic reactions, just like vaccines to immunise the people against COVID-19.
Meanwhile, she said the agency would carry out benefit assessments on whether the vaccination would exceed the risk faced by the recipients.
“The stigma that if there are side effects, then the vaccine is dangerous, is wrong. If we look at the United States, they have given 21 million doses, the number of vaccine recipients who get these side effects is very low and most are mild and can heal on its own.
“Their infectivity rate is also declining. This vaccine is not only to protect ourselves, but also the community as a whole,” she said.
Norleen said individuals experiencing adverse effects can lodge report at the nearest health facility or via MySejahtera application or the NPRA official website.
Malaysia is set to roll out on Feb 26 the biggest vaccination exercise it has ever undertaken, targeting 80 per cent of the population or 26 million individuals through three phases.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will arrive in Malaysia this Sunday.