No free Covid-19 vaccine for kids from May 16

A file picture of an 11-year-old boy receiving his vaccination under the PICKids at the Shah Alam Ideal Convention Centre on Feb 4, 2022. — IZZRAFIQ ALIAS/The Star

KUALA LUMPUR (April 13): There will be no more vaccines offered as the first dose under the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme for Children (PICKids) from after May 15, says Deputy Health Minister I Datuk Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali.

He said the deadline was set by the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force for Children (CITF-C) due to the low take-up rate, which could lead to high vaccine wastage.

“In order to avoid wastage of children’s Covid-19 Comirnaty vaccine that have to be used within six months after being released by the manufacturer, a deadline must be set.

“Therefore, from May 16 this year, the ministry will no longer offer the first dose of the (Pfizer-BioNTech) Comirnaty and (Sinovac) CoronaVac Covid-19 vaccines to children aged five to 12,” he said in a statement on Wednesday (April 13).

PICKids kicked off in February and as of Tuesday (April 13), only a total of 1,371,120 or 28.6% of children in the country have received the first dose, while 195,865 children have completed two jabs of the vaccine.

Dr Noor Azmi, who is also CITF-C chairman, said parents whose children have yet to get the vaccine will have to decide before the May 15 deadline.

“After the deadline, the Cominarty Covid-19 vaccine for children will no longer be offered at any public and private health facilities in Malaysia. The Coronavac vaccine can only be obtained for a fee at private facilities,” he said.

However, he said the deadline would not involve vaccination for children born in 2017 who have not reached the age of five on May 15, adding that vaccination details for this group will be announced soon.

Apart from that, he said CITF-C had also agreed to make amendments to the Covid-19 vaccination consent form for children under 18 by removing clause 2 which reads “I am responsible for the risks that may occur to children as a result of my decision/action because the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh the side effects”.

“The clause is dropped to avoid confusion and convey existing practices which the Ministry has never neglected and the readiness of the Ministry to provide necessary health assistance if they experienced side effects after receiving the vaccine,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Noor Azmi said healthcare workers would get in touch with parents who have registered their children to get the jabs through the MySejahtera application, via phone calls, social media or home visits.

“Parents who have agreed (to have their children vaccinated) will be given an appointment before the deadline. Parents who have yet to register their children to get vaccinated via MySejahtera can do so by May 8.

“I urge parents who have yet to decide not to miss the opportunity to get the vaccine for free through PICKids before the deadline. Choose to vaccinate your children to avoid severe complications of Covid-19 infection,” he added. – Bernama

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