‘Teen vaxxing needed to hit herd immunity’

PETALING JAYA: The Covid-19 vaccination programme for teenagers is very important for Malaysia to achieve herd immunity, say health experts.

They said that while nearly 80% of the adult population in the country has been vaccinated, this does not yet cover 80% of the overall population that is needed for herd immunity.

Prof Dr Moy Foong Ming from Universiti Malaya’s Department of Social and Preventive Medicine said she hopes that parents would give their consent for their children to be vaccinated.

“If we exclude teenagers, we will never achieve the vaccination target of 80% of the population. Not all adults can be vaccinated, and there are those who are anti-vaccine or hesitant,” she said.

She stressed that teenagers could also be infected with Covid-19 and while most might have mild symptoms, there were others who experienced severe symptoms.

“We should protect the population that is eligible.

“And when it is proven to be safe, the younger population aged below 12 years should also get vaccinated,” said Prof Moy.

She added that the United Kingdom and the United States were among those countries that have been looking into this as well.

Some 3.2 million teenagers in Malaysia aged 12 to 17 are expected to be covered by the immunisation programme.

So far, some 85,000 teenagers have been vaccinated.

According to the Special Committee on Ensuring Access to Covid-19 Vaccine Supply, 78.2% of the country’s adult population has been fully vaccinated.

Malaysian Public Health Physicians Association president Datuk Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar said this would mean that about 60% of the overall population had been vaccinated.

He said it was important to get teenagers vaccinated as quickly as possible as schools were going to reopen soon.

‘They are a very big group and there are still many cases in the community.

“They are either going to get infected or be a source of infection,” he added.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in its latest update said that the known and potential benefits of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine outweighs the known and potential risks in adolescents aged 12 through 15.

According to the FDA, the United States is currently experiencing a surge of Covid-19 cases and more adolescents are becoming ill and being hospitalised.

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