By Mei Kuan
The National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme for Children (PICKids) was launched on February 3 as a step to reduce COVID-19 transmissions and its complications among the young ones.
For this purpose, the government has procured the Comirnaty vaccine formulated for kids based on 80% of the total children population aged 5 to 11.
Till April 12 this year, a total of 1,371,120 or 38.6% of children have received at least one dose of vaccine while 195,865 have received two doses of vaccine with an average of 4,500 doses (first dose) administered per day in the last seven days.
According to Deputy Minister of Health I, Dato’ Dr Noor Azmi bin Ghazali, the Ministry of Health has reviewed the period of implementation of PICKids following a decreasing trend in demand.
“A low demand for vaccination can cause a high wastage of vaccines. To prevent wastage of the Comirnaty vaccine for kids which cannot be used after six months from the manufacturing date, a final date for the first dose has to be set.”
Based on the current situation, the COVID-19 Immunisation Task Force for Children (CITF-C) has decided on May 15 as the final date for the administration of the first dose under PICKids.
Thus, beginning May 16, the Ministry of Health will no longer offer the first dose of Comirnaty and CoronaVac for children aged 5 to 11.
“With this announcement, parents whose children have not received the vaccine need to make a decision regarding vaccination before May 15. After this date, the Comirnaty vaccine for kids will no longer be offered at any public and private healthcare facilities in Malaysia while the CoronaVac vaccine can only be obtained with payment at private facilities.
Noor Azmi also highlighted that this decision does not involve vaccination for children born in 2017 and those who have not reached the age of five on May 15—the children of this category can obtain vaccination by registering on the MySejahtera application. Details on the vaccination for this group will be announced in near future.
As preparation towards the final date of first dose, state health departments have started on-site operations where parents who have registered but have yet to obtain the vaccine for their children will be contacted by health personnel via phone, social media or house visit for the vaccination. Parents who have agreed will be given an appointment before the final date.
“Parents who have not registered their children for vaccination can do so on MySejahtera latest on May 8. This is to enable the system to provide an appointment before the final date. I urge parents who still have not made a decision to not miss the opportunity for free vaccination via PICKids before the final date.
“Choose to vaccinate your kids to prevent severe complications of COVID-19 infection,” he advised via a recent media statement on the official Facebook page of the Ministry of Health.
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