KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 7 — Sarawak will be the first state to roll out its Covid-19 vaccination programme for adolescents tomorrow, followed by Labuan and then Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, Khairy Jamaluddin said today.
The health minister said coronavirus vaccines would be offered to minors aged 12 to 17 in states that have fully vaccinated at least 80 per cent of their adult populations.
To date, only Negeri Sembilan, Sarawak, Labuan, and the Klang Valley have fully inoculated more than 80 per cent of their adult residents against Covid-19.
Sarawak’s adolescent Covid-19 vaccination drive starting tomorrow is estimated to target 76,400 teenagers aged 16 to 17, including a minority of 12- to 15-year-olds deemed to be high risk with comorbidities or immune system conditions.
“After we finish 16- to 17-year-olds and high-risk teenagers, we will go down the age groups — 15, 14, 13, and 12. We’ll do it in stages to ensure there are no problems in implementing the vaccination programme,” Khairy told reporters in Tawau, Sabah.
Malaysia’s National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) has approved Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine for people aged 12 and above.
Khairy said the expert committee advising the Special Committee on Ensuring Access to Covid-19 Vaccine Supply (JKJAV) has concluded that the benefits of vaccinating adolescents outweighed the risks of extremely rare side effects.
He cited data from the United States that showed cases of heart inflammation among teenagers who contracted Covid-19 was 37 times higher than those who did not get infected with the virus.
Data from the US also showed only 450 cases per million people of heart inflammation among adolescents who received Covid-19 vaccines.
“We did a risk-benefit study and find that — starting with vaccinating 16- to 17-year-olds and those with comorbidities — the benefit from vaccination is much bigger than the small risk of side effects that we see in other countries,” said Khairy.