Vaccination for kids to begin at the end of the month

KUALA LUMPUR: The Covid-19 vaccination programme for children will begin at the end of the month, says Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.

He said this would involve children between the ages of five and 11.

“In terms of preparing for us to enter the endemic era, we already have powerful tools in the form of vaccines. Malaysia is among the leading nations in administering the booster jabs,” he said in his 2022 New Year message for his ministry.

Khairy also said that the government would acquire treatment options for Covid-19 that could be used to bring the country towards endemicity.

On another matter, the minister also said quarantine periods for Covid-19 patients would now vary based on their vaccination status and if they are showing symptoms, adding those who are symptomatic or have not received their second dose of vaccine, must undergo a mandatory 10-day quarantine.

For asymptomatic patients who have received two doses of vaccine but have not received their booster shot, the quarantine is seven days, he said.

“For close contacts who have been fully vaccinated but have not received their booster shot, not fully vaccinated or unvaccinated must undergo quarantine for seven days.

“Close contacts who are symptomatic must undergo the RTK-Ag Covid-19 screening test, self-test or go to the nearest health facility to get further treatment,” he said in a statement.

Khairy said all new isolation and quarantine procedures will be effective from today and will also be applicable to those who are already undergoing isolation and quarantine.

He explained that the new ruling was made after the Health Ministry re-evaluated the surveillance and observation period based on data, science and experiences from other countries relating to the management of positive Covid-19 cases and close contacts of confirmed cases.

He said existing procedures for the management of travellers to Malaysia are still applicable, adding the ministry had also stepped up the preparedness of the health service system to face the possibility of a rise in cases caused by the Omicron variant.

The Health Ministry is also looking to clear this year all its backlog of 50,000 surgical and medical-based procedures that were put off by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Khairy said ischemic heart disease, non-communicable diseases and cancer are the top killers in the country that must be back on the radar.

“We must look at how we can get better treatment for these patients, and how we can ensure that there is no backlog for people who are waiting for medical procedures and appointments with specialists.

“So we must get back to looking at the top causes of deaths in Malaysia pre-Covid-19,” he said in his 2022 New Year message for his ministry.

He also noted the need to look at the entire spectrum of care, from preventive, curative and rehabilitative to palliative.

This year, he said, the country will likely see the end of the Covid-19 pandemic phase and enter the endemic phase.

“Again, the caveat is that we don’t know how the virus will mutate but all things being equal, we must work hard to switch to endemicity this year,” he said.

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