KUALA LUMPUR, June 17 — Students sitting for major examinations this year will be considered for Covid-19 vaccination, Khairy Jamaluddin said, after local regulators approved the Pfizer-BioNTech shot for those aged 12 years and older.
The science, technology and innovation minister said his ministry is working alongside the Ministry of Education to inoculate some 357,000 exam year students in Form Five and Form Six, as well as 47,000 Form Five teachers and other support staff at schools.
“The Education Minister has asked if we can inoculate this group first and allow exam year students to go back to school gradually. For me, that makes a lot of sense because I think kids who are facing public exams really need to get back to school to prepare for the exams,” Khairy said during yesterday’s The Oxford and Cambridge Society Malaysia’s “The Path to Herd Immunity” public dialogue conducted online.
“We might end up using the schools (as a vaccination site), where kids show up on the first day, there is a vaccination tent, they go in and get vaccinated,” Khairy said, roughly describing what could potentially be a model for coronavirus vaccination in schools.
Students had returned to schools in phases earlier in March this year, beginning with Primary 1 and Primary 2 students as well as pre-schoolers. However, a spike in positive coronavirus cases in schools led to their closure once again.
Schools are expected to reopen in September this year under Phase Three of the National Recovery Plan, when daily cases are expected to drop below the 2,000-mark, ICU capacity is at a “comfortable” level, and at least 40 per cent of the population is inoculated.
Former Education Minister Maszlee Malik was quoted by The Malay Mail today as saying that schools could be reopened earlier than September if the government can consider vaccinating teachers and students sitting for SPM and STPM.
Meanwhile, Khairy said foreign-bound students will be given a Covid-19 vaccination appointment if they can show proof of their enrolment in a university abroad by sending requests to [email protected].
“We are currently accepting applications through the website for students who want to go overseas. We are expecting students who will study in the UK to leave sometime in August or September, and likewise, for students going to the US. We’ve approved quite a lot of requests.
“Usually, we don’t give people the choice to pick their vaccines as they will be given the vaccine that is available. But there is an exception to that rule for those going abroad to study.
“If we give somebody a vaccine that is not recognised in the country of their university, that can lead to problems. What we will do is we will look at the destination and try to match them with the vaccines that have been recognised in that particular country,” Khairy said, stressing that this is a policy that should be resolved by the World Health Organization (WHO).
On a separate note, Khairy said the government has issued clinical guidelines on the suitability of Covid-19 vaccines for women who are pregnant between 14 and 33 weeks or those who are breastfeeding.
“Based on our data, we have about 60,000 pregnant mothers registered on MySejahtera, so we are pushing out these appointments very soon. The vaccination centres have been instructed not to turn them away and to vaccinate them after consultation,” Khairy said.