Safety a priority ahead of students’ return

KUCHING: Sarawak is on track to achieving its target of fully vaccinating those aged 16 and 17 before schools reopen on Oct 3, says Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

He said that as of Wednesday, 61,271 out of 96,400 teens in this age group or 63.6% had already received their first dose.

In addition, 3,981 of those between the ages of 12 and 15 with comorbidities have also been given their first dose, representing 2.1% of the 192,800 teens in this age group.

“We are meeting our target as far as teenagers are concerned. So, they will be safe in terms of vaccination when they go back to school,” he told reporters after visiting the Dewan Majma vaccination centre here yesterday.

He said those aged 12 to 15 years with no health problems were expected to be fully vaccinated by the end of October.

Sarawak began vaccinating teenagers in stages on Sept 8, starting with those aged 16 and 17 as well as 12- to 15-year-olds with comorbidities.

To date, 234 schools in the state are involved in the teen vaccination programme, including private and religious schools, and Mara junior science colleges.

Abang Johari also thanked parents for their cooperation in the inoculation programme by giving their consent for their children to be vaccinated.

“I would also like to thank the schools and teachers involved as well as the volunteers,” he added.

The state’s target was to have a majority of the population, including teenagers, fully vaccinated by the end of the year, he said.

As of Wednesday, 65.8% of the state’s total population has received both doses, with the percentage rising to 78.8% for those aged 12 and above.

The Chief Minister also said Sarawak was on its way towards the endemic phase of Covid-19 based on its low hospitalisation rate, with a majority of its cases in Categories 1 (asymptomatic) and 2 (mild symptoms).

He said the state disaster management committee’s decision to exempt fully vaccinated individuals from quarantine upon arriving in Sarawak from other parts of Malaysia was a step towards preparing for the endemic phase.

“Whether the endemic phase can be declared depends on the national authorities as they have to look at the whole country,” he added.

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