KUALA LUMPUR, August 18 — The Sarawak state government is finalising the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines for adolescents, likely to be implemented in two stages beginning with 15- to 17-year-olds.
Sarawak Local Government and Housing Minister Dr Sim Kui Hian said yesterday that 2,278, or about 29 per cent, of 7,875 Covid-19 cases reported in the first 12 days of August were aged below 18 years: 832 cases (aged below six years), 773 cases (aged seven to 12 years), and 673 cases (aged 13 to 17 years).
“Children and teenagers may be mild severity but as Covid-19 is only 18 months old, there is still a lot of unknown with Long Covid syndrome and paediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome (PIMS),” said Dr Sim.
“They have another 70-80 years of life left to live and more medical-social research needs to be done as cohort for many more years to come.”
The National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) approved last June Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine for use in children aged 12 years and above.
According to Dr Sim, there are about 240,000 Sarawakians aged 12 to 17 years. The state’s coronavirus vaccination programme for teenagers will be managed by the education and health departments together with the state government.
Sarawak is nearing vaccination coverage of adults, as 89 per cent of its population aged 18 and above have received at least one dose, including 82 per cent fully vaccinated.
Former Vaccine Minister Khairy Jamaluddin announced last August 13 that Covid-19 jabs would be offered to all children aged 12 to 17 starting next month in two phases: those with underlying medical conditions will be inoculated first, followed by healthy individuals from older to younger.
Schools are due to reopen from October 3.
On a national scale, only about 49 per cent of Malaysia’s adult population have been fully inoculated, amid rising Covid-19 outbreaks throughout the country that hit states with low vaccination coverage particularly hard. Older adults are more likely to get severe disease and die from Covid-19.