There is still uncertainty over safety of jab for children

A concerned parent helping her child to put on a mask at a shopping centre in Penang before the start of the lockdown.

PARENTS are in a predicament as they are not sure whether to get their children vaccinated. The number of Covid-19 cases involving children is alarming but studies on the safety of the vaccine do not include them.

Heng Ooi Bee Lee, 40, from Penang, is worried about her two children.

“Their safety was a daily concern when they were going to school.

“Now that they are studying online, I do feel better about the situation.

“One child is in primary school and the other is in secondary school.

“I had to worry about possible Covid-19 outbreaks at two separate schools and this was scary.

“We used to wait anxiously for news of cases at their schools, ” said the pharmaceutical company sales representative.

Bee Lee said she was keeping tabs on studies involving the vaccination of children.

“I am worried and would prefer that all of us adults are vaccinated quickly so that we can keep the children safe.

“Until then, I am glad my children are at home although I do feel bad that they are missing out on school activities, ” she said.

Bee Lee does her part by keeping away from her children when she comes home from outside.

She showers and disinfects herself before interacting with them.

Businesswoman Ooi Su Ching, 40, on the other hand, is keen to have her children vaccinated as it will allow their lives to get back to normal.

“The number of cases in the country is quite high and my children are cooped up at home.

“We have been extra careful and I go out only when necessary.

“If we receive parcels, we leave them outside for a few days and spray them with disinfectant.

“When I do go outside, I rush to shower and wash my clothes when I come home.

“I take as many precautions as possible, ” she said.

Su Ching says that until the vaccine is available for children, she tries to give her kids healthy food to boost their immune systems.

Malaysia recorded deaths of three children aged below five due to the coronavirus in the first five months of this year, the same number recorded over the whole of 2020.

Paediatrician and international board-certified lactation consultant Datuk Dr Siti Khadijah Tun Hamdan said that ideally, everyone should be vaccinated but the World Health Organisation (WHO) has conducted studies only on the vaccination of those aged 16 and above.

“There are ongoing studies and certain countries have brought down the age bracket to 12, ” said Dr Siti Khadijah.

“The pool of asymptomatic cases in children is big.

“It has been shown that a lot of younger children are carriers who can pass the virus to adults.

“They are either asymptomatic or have happy hypoxia. They will look well and then suddenly, become very ill.”

It was reported that a total of 82, 341 infants and children in Malaysia have tested positive for Covid-19 up to May 31.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba said 19, 851 cases involved children below the age of four, with 8, 237 cases involving those aged five to six.

A total of 26, 851 cases involved children aged seven to 12 while 27, 402 victims were aged 13 to 17.

It was reported recently that children between 12 and 17 were expected to be included in the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme in its fifth phase.

Dr Adham had said that this phase, which would likely kick off in August, would take place only if the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency gives its approval for the Pfizer vaccine to be used on children in this age group.

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paediatrician , penang , children , covid-19


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