KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 26 – The College of Paediatrics under the Academy Medicine of Malaysia (AMMCoP) has expressed support for the government’s Covid-19 vaccination programme targeting children aged below 12 years.
The local paediatricians cited data from the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the safety profile of 8.7 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s mRNA vaccine given to children aged five to 11 that found only 11 cases of non-fatal myocarditis, or heart inflammation.
“In line with global data and our local vaccine safety study (SAFECOVAC), the findings to date indicate that post-vaccination myocarditis events are rare, and that most of the cases are mild, self-limiting, and spontaneously resolved,” said AMMCoP in a statement.
The government plans to roll out the paediatric coronavirus inoculation programme, dubbed PICKids, from February 3 with Pfizer’s vaccine administered at a lower dosage of 10 micrograms, eight weeks between doses.
Parents in the Klang Valley can start booking vaccination appointments for their children from January 31.
AMMCoP cited reports indicating that children infected with the Omicron coronavirus variant have a 20 per cent higher risk of hospitalisation than those infected with Delta.
In the US, paediatric Covid-19 admissions rose by 48 per cent in the last week of December 2021, many of whom were unvaccinated or partially vaccinated.
AMMCoP also highlighted the development of the multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) in some who contracted Covid-19. MIS-C is a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs.
“The long-term consequences and profile of MIS-C and long Covid are not fully defined, thus its negative clinical impact may potentially increase in tandem with the rising Omicron infections.”
Malaysia reported 105 deaths from Covid-19 in children aged 17 years and younger from July to December last year.
“The disease or the fear of it also results in limited school activities and social interactions that are detrimental to normal childhood development,” said AMMCoP.
The paediatricians from AMMCoP who issued the joint statement were Prof Dr Cheah Fook Choe, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre; Prof Dr Thong Meow Keong, University of Malaya Medical Centre; Prof Dr Zulkifli Ismail, KPJ Healthcare University College; Prof Dr Zilfalil Alwi, Universiti Sains Malaysia; Dr Amir Hamzah Abdul Latiff, Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur; Dr Patrick Chan Wai Kiong, Gleneagles Hospital Kuala Lumpur; Assoc Prof Dr Erwin Khoo Jiayuan, International Medical University; and Prof Dr Noran Naqiah Hairi, University of Malaya.