More young people are turning up at the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital (HTAR) in Klang with severe COVID-19 symptoms, which doctors believe is due to vaccine hesitancy.
Consultant emergency medicine specialist Dr Ahmad Tajuddin Mohamad Nor told Bernama that about two-thirds of COVID-19 patients treated at the hospital are aged below 60 and almost all of them, have not been vaccinated. This group far outnumber the cases involving vaccinated elderly people, he further noted.
According to him, the trend became apparent during the fourth wave of COVID-19 in late June, but it did not occur to teh doctors then that the patients' vaccination status could be a factor.
However, now with COVID-19 vaccines becoming more easily available, including via walk-ins, vaccine hesitancy has started to look like a potential culprit.
"The middle-aged, the younger ones... some of them are partially vaccinated (with) one dose, or will be missing (the vaccinations) altogether," he told the national news agency.
Vaccine hesitancy is playing a huge role in worsening the COVID-19 situation around the world, including in the US and Israel.
A study in the US has shown that unvaccinated individuals were 10 times more likely to be hospitalised, and 11 times more likely to die, than their vaccinated counterparts.
In Malaysia, unvaccinated individuals account for 80 per cent of the hospitalisations, the Health Ministry has said.
"We noticed a stark difference. If you are vaccinated, it's very unlikely that you' re going to turn any worse.
"If you (are unvaccinated and) present yourself in less severe stages, you may deteriorate quite rapidly. So if you're coming in at Stage 4 - someone who is dependant on oxygen, and you are not vaccinated, that is a red flag for us," Dr Ahmad Tajuddin said.
He attributed the hesitancy to a false sense of security among youngsters, who think that COVID-19 only attacks the elderly and those with commorbidities, and they themselves are invincible.
Younger people are also more likely to go out more often and adhere lesser to the preventive guidelines set by the government, the doctor added.
HTAR director Dr Zulkarnain Mohd Rawi confirmed that about 70 per cent of admissions into the hospital involve the unvaccinated, while 80 per cent of deaths occurred among the unvaccinated.
A lot of patients whose conditions turn for the worse after admission also suffer from undetected diabetes, he said.
Malaysia has fully vaccinated more than 80 per cent of its adult population, while about six per cent of the population (or about 1.46 million) people have not yet registered to get vaccinated.
With anti-vaccine sentiments still being spread widely by anti-vaxxers, public health experts have supported possible vaccine mandates to be enforced by the government.
Photo source: Astro Awani
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