Lanang MP: Can Kids Mix-And-Match Covid-19 Vaccines?

Alice Lau asks the government if children aged 5 to 11 who received a first Pfizer vaccine dose can take Sinovac for their second.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 10 – Lanang MP Alice Lau has asked if children aged 5 to 11 can get heterologous Covid-19 vaccination for their primary course, after regulators authorised Sinovac’s jab for this age group.

The National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) approved on March 3 the use of Sinovac’s coronavirus vaccine for children aged five to 11, which means that the vast majority of some one million kids who received their first dose had taken Pfizer-BioNTech’s mRNA shot. 

No child has received their second shot yet in the paediatric Covid-19 vaccination programme (PICKids) that started on February 3, as the second Pfizer dose of the special children’s formulation is scheduled eight weeks from the first.

Many parents remain sceptical about vaccinating their children, Lau said in her debate on the motion of thanks on the royal address in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday, with only 30 per cent of children aged 5 to 11 nationwide having received their first vaccine dose.

Lau, a Sarawakian MP, said some parents prefered Sinovac over Pfizer for their children and inquired if the government would allow parents to opt for a second primer jab with Sinovac, an inactivated vaccine, for their child who received a first dose of Pfizer. 

She cited a study by New York researchers that found waning efficacy of two Pfizer doses against infection and hospitalisation in children aged 5 to 11 during the Omicron wave.

The dramatic drop in vaccine effectiveness among children 5 to 11 years old was likely due to the lower dosage they received, according to a team of public health officials who carried out the study.

The Pfizer regimen for anyone aged 12 and older is two 30-microgram shots per person. Kids aged five to 11 years old are given two 10-microgram shots, one-third the adult quantity.

Malaysia has only administered heterologous booster Covid-19 vaccination for adults, where one can choose a different vaccine booster from their primary course of two doses of the same vaccine. 

The Institute for Clinical Research (ICR) under the Ministry of Health (MOH) previously cited three international studies, besides its own real-world local research in Malaysia, that found a Pfizer booster for Sinovac primer recipients was more effective against Covid-19, especially the Omicron variant, than a third Sinovac dose.

Deputy Health Minister Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali, when speaking at the Dewan Rakyat Tuesday, said Sinovac’s vaccine produced a higher immune response for children than teenagers and adults, but did not state the vaccine efficacy rate

Clinical trials for Pfizer’s vaccine, on the other hand, showed 91 per cent effectiveness against Covid-19 in children aged five to 11 when administered three weeks apart.

“I urge the government to provide more information on the vaccination programme and display concrete data and statistics to instil confidence in parents so they can register their children for vaccination,” Lau said.

The DAP lawmaker further asked if the government would consider administering booster or alternative Covid vaccine doses for under-12 children.

She also inquired if federal authorities will prioritise Sarawak in the distribution of Pfizer’s Covid-19 oral antiviral drug, Paxlovid, which Malaysia is scheduled to receive later this month.

MOH is also looking to procure Merck’s oral Covid-19 antiviral pill Molnupiravir and AstraZeneca’s antibody drug for Covid.

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