It appears that Malaysia’s plan to vaccinate children below 12 years old against COVID-19 will begin much later in 2022. Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has revealed during an online global town hall session that the COVID-19 vaccines for children would only arrive towards the end of the second quarter of 2022. He said this is due to vaccine inequity which is one of the global challenges in fighting the pandemic.
Khairy criticised certain parties for saying “you don’t have the capacity so you don’t need that much vaccines”. He said such a response is highly condescending and that’s a huge part of why some countries are not getting vaccinated.
Khairy said during negotiations for COVID-19 vaccines earlier this year, he was asked by a pharmaceutical company if he’s sure Malaysia is able to absorb that amount of vaccines. To prove them wrong when the vaccine supply arrived, he made sure that Malaysia’s daily vaccination rate per capita is the highest in the world compared to the peak recorded by the US and the UK, just to prove a point.
The minister said he is starting to see the same inequity situation again when Malaysia starts negotiating for children’s vaccines. Despite being one of the earliest countries who are willing to sign an agreement, the indicated delivery schedule is towards the end of the second quarter of 2022 when other countries have already started their vaccination.
Malaysia’s national immunisation programme is currently vaccinating teens aged 12 years old and above. The booster dose programme has already started for adults aged 40 years old and above, as well as adults (18 years old and above) with comorbidities. The Pfizer BioNTech vaccine has received US FDA’s (Food and Drug Administration) emergency use authorisation for children aged 5 to 11 years old. However, it is still subject to Malaysia’s National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) evaluation and approval before it can be administered locally to younger children. The Pfizer vaccine for younger children comes in different packaging and has one-third the dose required for teens and adults.
The late delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine supply raises concerns for the younger age group who are left vulnerable without protection against COVID-19. Although the number of daily new COVID-19 cases is showing a downward trend, the percentage of COVID-19 cases among 5-11 years old is slowly increasing from less than 8% six months ago to more than 10% in the past month. In the US, 10% of American children (2.6 million) aged 5 to 11 years old have already received their first Pfizer vaccine jab as of 17th November.
At the moment, Malaysia has fully vaccinated 76.6% of its population, which is higher than most developed nations including the United States (59.2%), United Kingdom (68.7%), Germany (67.9%) and Australia (71.3%). Close to 96% of Malaysia’s adult population have been fully vaccinated while 82.5% of teens have been fully vaccinated. According to COVIDNow, Malaysia had a peak vaccination rate of 578,231 doses administered on 28th July 2021.
- Malaysia will start vaccinating children below 12 years old against COVID-19 next year
- COVID-19 Vaccine: Here’s how to register yourself on the waiting list at private health facilities
- COVIDNow: Now you can view Malaysia’s COVID-19 cases and deaths by age groups
- Travelling for Umrah? Here’s how you can request for COVID-19 booster shot via MySejahtera