KUALA LUMPUR, March 8 – Deputy Health Minister Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali today reiterated the Covid-19 vaccines by Pfizer-BioNTech and Sinovac are safe and effective for children aged five to 11 years.
He cited real-world data from the United States that show far lower cases of adverse events following immunisation (AEFI) among nearly 8.7 million administered doses of the special children’s formulation of Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine, compared to AEFI among adolescents aged 12 to 17.
He also cited clinical data that show Pfizer’s jab is 90.7 per cent effective in preventing Covid-19 in children aged five to 11.
As for Sinovac’s Covid-19 vaccine — which has been approved by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) for the five-to-11 age group – Dr Noor Azmi cited immuno-bridging analysis that showed higher immune response for children than teenagers and adults.
“Clinical data also shows that this two-dose vaccine regimen is safe, where the first dose is 0.5ml and the second dose is given 28 days after the first day,” Dr Noor Azmi told Hang Tuah Jaya MP Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin during Question Time in the Dewan Rakyat today.
“AEFI reports from China that administered 211 million doses of the CoronaVac vaccine among children and teenagers also show that this vaccine is safe and most reported side effects are mild, moderate, and temporary.”
The deputy health minister also said the NPRA has received 94 AEFI reports from the paediatric Covid-19 vaccination programme (PICKids), which is equivalent to just 0.1 reports per 1,000 doses, as of February 25.
Only two of the 94 cases were serious AEFI. Regulators are still evaluating the link between the side effects and the vaccine.
NPRA previously told a media briefing that the two serious AEFI cases involved a 10-year-old girl with exacerbated asthma and a 10-year-old boy with Bell’s palsy (temporary facial paralysis). Both children have since recovered.
Dr Noor Azmi pointed out that 123,053 Covid-19 cases were reported among children aged under 12 this year as of March 5, including some paediatric patients who required treatment in hospital and in the intensive care unit (ICU). Thirty-nine deaths from Covid-19 have been reported among children aged five to 11 years throughout the pandemic as of March 6.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) is offering Sinovac’s coronavirus vaccine at vaccination sites (PPVs) for children aged five to 11 who cannot receive Pfizer’s shot for health reasons.
“However, the MOH is still recommending Pfizer vaccine for PICKids as it offers a higher level of protection,” ProtectHealth Corporation said in a statement.