KUALA LUMPUR, March 9 – The government offered 1.63 million appointments under the children’s Covid-19 vaccination programme (PICKids) as of February 3, but only one million kids were vaccinated, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said today.
This means that more than 600,000 children aged five to 11 years did not turn up for their appointments.
“So we must continue our campaign to encourage parents to be confident with the vaccine — ‘the vaccine is safe and can protect my child from the serious impact of Covid-19’ — especially when they want to return to school,” Khairy told a press conference.
About 30 per cent of children aged five to 11 have received their first coronavirus vaccine dose under PICKids.
Khairy pointed out that 123,019 Covid-19 infections were reported in children aged below 12 this year up to March 7.
More than half of paediatric Covid-19 patients aged below 12 this year as of March 7 were boys at 53.1 per cent, while girls comprised the remaining 46.9 per cent.
In terms of ethnic breakdown, Malays comprised the majority at 73.1 per cent, followed by “others” (foreign nationals and other Malaysian ethnic groups outside Malays, Chinese, and Indians) at 12.3 per cent, Chinese (11.2 per cent), and Indians (3.5 per cent).
Crucially, the utilisation of Covid-19 paediatric beds in Ministry of Health (MOH) hospitals by under-12 children increased by more than 250 per cent from about 100 beds occupied on February 2 to more than 350 on February 24.
Admission rates for the paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) increased by 94 per cent for children aged 12 and below across Categories Two to Five of Covid-19 disease, or from 16 cases in the January to February period to 31 cases in the January to March period. (Category Two cases remained the same at four during both periods).
Severe Covid-19 cases in Category Four rose 200 per cent from two to six cases, while Category Five cases increased 125 per cent from eight to 18 cases in the same period.
From June 2020 to December last year, 174 children aged below 18 suffered from multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) as a result of Covid-19 infection, which is a condition of inflammation of internal organs, especially the heart, lungs, and brain. Seven children have died from MIS-C as a result of Covid-19 infection.
“Children are also at risk of Long Covid. The limited data obtained so far indicate that their risk is lower compared to adults, however, at this time, not much is known about the long-term effects of Long Covid for children.”