PICKids, Malaysia’s COVID-19 vaccination programme for younger children aged below 12 years old will start tomorrow, 3rd February 2022. How is it different from the previous vaccination programme for adults and teens? Is the vaccine the same as adults? Here are 8 things you need to know.
PICKids is for children aged 5 to 11 years old
After fully vaccinating more than 88% of teens aged 12 to 17 years old throughout the country, the national immunisation programme will begin vaccinating younger children under PICKids. The program is only for children aged between 5 to 11 years old.
PICKids vaccination centre in the Klang Valley
At the moment, PICKids is rolling out in the Klang Valley starting with 3 vaccination centres (PPV) on 3rd February which includes World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur, Axiata Arena in Bukit Jalil and Ideal Convention Centre (IDCC) in Shah Alam. Parents will be able to choose their preferred PPV when they register their children for PICKids.
25 more vaccination centres in the Klang Valley will begin their PICKids operations on Saturday, 5th February 2022. For other states outside the Klang Valley, PICKids will be carried out in schools and hospitals.
How to register for PICKids?
Similar to the previous COVID-19 vaccination programme for adults and teens, the registration is voluntary and it isn’t mandatory. For children to get vaccinated against COVID-19, they must be registered by their parent or guardian via MySejahtera, which is available on Google Play Store, Apple AppStore, and Huawei AppGallery. It is recommended that you update the app to the latest version before you proceed to book an appointment.
To book a vaccine appointment for your child, launch the MySejahtera app, go to the home screen and then tap on COVID-19 vaccination.
Tap on “Add Vaccine Dependent” and then “Add Vaccination Dependent“. You will need to fill up your child’s personal particulars.
Once that’s done, you can proceed to book your dependent’s appointment. You will need to confirm and declare if your dependent has never experienced severe allergies and is not on blood-thining medication. If you answer no to any of them, your dependent will be required to undergo a pre-vaccination assessment.
If both boxes are ticked, you may proceed to select the vaccine type and preferred vaccination centre. For younger children, you should pick Pfizer (children) as the vaccine type.
You can search for your preferred PPV by name or postcode. Once selected, you can choose your preferred time slot for your child’s vaccination. Before confirming your booking, you are advised to double check all details including the PPV name, vaccine type, date, and time of the appointment. Once that’s done, your child’s COVID-19 vaccination appointment is completed.
For a better illustration, you can follow the step-by-step screen recording provided by JKJAV.
How to change PICKids appointment?
If there’s a need to cancel or change your appointment, you are able to do so in the MySejahtera app. Just go back to the Vaccination Page’s dependent screen, and then tap on “Click here to cancel your dependent appointment“. After cancellation, you can book a new vaccination slot for your child.
Do kids get the same COVID-19 vaccine as adults?
Children under 12 will be offered Pfizer vaccines but it is a different formulation from the one that’s given to adults and children aged 12 and above. For children aged 5 to 11 years old, they will be given a less potent formulation and the vial gets an orange cap, instead of purple for adults.
The Pfizer vaccine formulation for PICKids has an mRNA concentration of 10ug instead of 30ug for adults. In terms of injection volume, kids are only getting 0.2ml instead of 0.3ml for adults. This means the vaccine dose should be filled up to the 0.2ml marker on the syringe under PICKids. Pfizer’s Comirnaty 10mcg Concentrate for Dispersion for Injection was approved by Malaysia’s Drug Control Authority (DCA) on 6th January 2022.
After vaccination, it is recommended that your child avoid strenuous activities for a week. Common minor side-effects after vaccination include sore arm, fever and fatigue
When do kids under 12 get their second dose?
As announced by the Ministry of Health, the COVID-19 vaccination for kids will be administered with an 8-week interval between the first and second dose. This means your child’s second dose appointment will be exactly 8 weeks (56 days) after receiving the first dose, instead of the usual 3-week interval for individuals aged 12 years old and above.
According to the Ministry of Health, data has shown that the 8-week interval can offer a high level of protection while reducing the risk of myocarditis.
No restrictions for unvaccinated children for now
As announced by Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, there will be no restrictions imposed on children aged 5 to 11 years old who do not get vaccinated against COVID-19. He said the younger age group will not be penalised like those who are not vaccinated in the adult group, and the COVID-19 immunisation programme for children is not mandatory.
At the moment, adults are required to have a fully vaccinated status on MySejahtera before they are allowed to enjoy reduced restrictions such as dine-in at restaurants, taking a flight, or going to the cinemas. This means unvaccinated kids under 12 are still allowed to dine in or watch movies in cinemas when they are accompanied by their fully vaccinated parents.
Why is COVID-19 vaccination for children necessary?
While it isn’t mandatory, the Ministry of Health highly recommends COVID-19 vaccination for younger children to prevent having Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrom in Children (MIS-C) and effects of Long COVID due to COVID-19 infection. Being vaccinated also allows younger children to have optimum levels of protection so that they will be allowed to socialise safely outdoors at school and to reduce the risk of transmission to other children who can’t get vaccinated due to health reasons.
Countering comments that kids are not at risk of getting COVID-19, Dr Mahesh Appannan, the Head of Data at the Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre at the Ministry of Health shared there’s a surge of COVID-19 hospitalisation among younger children in other countries due to the Omicron variant. Although there aren’t many cases among younger children in Malaysia for now, there has been a number of new clusters in the education sector. According to Dr Mahesh, it is clear that Omicron brings a higher risk to children due to its high transmissibility, and we shouldn’t wait for more kids to be admitted to the hospital to regret it.
Besides Malaysia, other countries have also vaccinated their younger children population under 12 years old. This includes the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, China, Australia, Singapore, South Korea, France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal.
According to Khairy Jamaluddin, 517,107 kids aged between 5-11 years old have registered by parents so far. He said this is equivalent to almost 15% of total 3.6 million kids for the age group. Kuala Lumpur has the highest registration rate at 25%, while Kelantan and Sabah have the least at 5%.