The Ministry of Health has revealed that the first COVID-19 vaccine dose for children aged 5 to 11 years old under PICKids will end by the middle of next month. This comes as the vaccination rate for kids is declining and there’s a concern of wastage of unused vaccines.
According to the official statement, the government has procured Pfizer’s (Comirnaty) vaccines formulated for children to cover 80% of the targetted population aged 5 to 11 years old. Since the PICKids started on 3rd February 2022, only 38.6% or 1,371,120 children have received at least one dose while 5.5% or 195,865 children have gotten their second dose. In the past 7 days, the administration of the first dose vaccine for children has hovered at around 4,500 jabs per day.
Due to the declining trend, the Ministry has reevaluated the duration of the PICKids programme as the low vaccination rate may result in the wastage of vaccines. Since the Cominarty vaccine for children formulation has a shelf life of six months, there’s a need to set an end date for the first dose.
15th May 2022 last day to get first vaccine dose for kids
The COVID-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) has decided to set 15th May 2022 as the final day to offer the first COVID-19 vaccine dose for children aged 5 to 11 years old. This means children aged 5 to 11 years old will no longer be offered the first dose of Pfizer (Cominarty) or Sinovac (CoronaVac) vaccines from 16th May 2022 onward. It added that the Pfizer vaccine for children won’t be offered in any public or private health facility while Sinovac vaccines will still be available at private clinics.
Parents are urged to get their children aged 5 to 11 years old vaccinated as soon as possible before the deadline. This can be done by making an appointment under MySejahtera.
To recap, the Pfizer vaccine for children is administered with an 8-week interval between the first and second dose. Meanwhile, Sinovac vaccines for children are administered at a shorter 4-week interval between the first and second dose. Pfizer remains the default choice while Sinovac is offered to children who can’t take mRNA vaccines or if the parents do not agree to use Pfizer for their child.
What about kids who have not turned 5 years old?
Since PICKids is strictly for children aged at least 5 years old on the day of the appointment, children who are born in 2017 and have not reached the age of 5 years old on 15th May 2022, are still eligible to get the vaccine under the programme. Kids turning 5 years old soon, will still be allowed to be registered for the COVID-19 vaccination via MySejahtera. Further details will be shared at a later date.
Changes to the consent form
To address concerns and hesitancy of parents to get their children vaccinated, the Ministry will remove the clause mentioning that the parents will be responsible for any risk to the children based on their action because the benefit far outweighs the risk. The removal of the clause is aimed at avoiding confusion and it emphasised that it won’t neglect its existing practices and shall always be available to provide medical assistance if there are any side effects following immunisation.
Terengganu and Kelantan lag behind other states for PICKids
At the moment, Sarawak still leads in the vaccination programme for kids with 62% of children (5 – 11) having at least one dose. This is followed by Johor at 42.3%, Penang at 39.7% and the Klang Valley at 39.5%. The northern Peninsular states and Sabah are trailing behind with a rate of less than 25%. Terengganu and Kelantan are far behind with a PICKids vaccination rate of 10.9% and 8.9% respectively.
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Tarikh Akhir Dos 1 Program Imunisasi COVID-19 Kebangsaan Kanak-Kanak (PICKids) pic.twitter.com/Jo9e4t0Mbv