PUTRAJAYA: Children aged five to 12 who are unvaccinated are only left with paid options if they intend to get their first Covid-19 vaccine dose after May 15, says Khairy Jamaluddin.
The Health Minister said the National Immunisation Programme for Children (PICKids) is set to end on May 15, and the government cannot afford to extend the deadline due to expiring supply.
“We will be putting aside a supply of vaccines for children who are turning five this year, but have yet to reach their birthday.
“There will also be a supply kept after the deadline for children who were infected with Covid-19 and had to wait a month before they are able to get their first dose.
“But for the rest, May 15 is the deadline. We cannot afford to extend the deadline because this has to do with the expiration date of the vaccine, the delivery schedule from the manufacturer and also our plans to procure more antiviral drugs.
“After May 15 when PICKids end, children have the option to get their vaccines by paying for them; it would not be for free. The only vaccination brand available under this paid programme is Sinovac.
“For Pfizer vaccines, it is only given through PICKids and this is no longer given after May 15 to those who have yet to receive their first dose,” said Khairy at a press conference at this ministry on Wednesday (April 27).
Khairy expressed disappointment that only 42% of the country’s children population have been vaccinated, despite efforts to promote the programme through the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force for Children (CITF-C).
“The task force has done their work wonderfully to organise campaigns and setting up PPVs (vaccination centres) at schools.
“Unfortunately, a majority of parents still will not allow their children to be vaccinated. I project that only 45% of our children will be jabbed.
“But we have two more weeks left before the end of the programme, and I really hope parents will take this opportunity to vaccinate their children,” said Khairy.
Khairy said between Oct 2021 to April this year, there have been 245 cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) due to Covid-19 infection reported.
“Two days ago, we also received news of an 11-year-old child who died after suffering from MIS-C as a result of Covid-19 infection. The child was unvaccinated.
“May this incident be an encouragement to other parents to immediately get the Covid-19 vaccine for their eligible children,” he said.