Dr Yii calls on govt to restart Covid-19 vaccination for kids, teens to protect them from variants

Dr Kelvin Yii

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KUCHING, Aug 10: Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii has urged the the Special Committee on Covid-19 Vaccine Supply (JKJAV) to reconsider its decision on pausing the Covid-19 vaccination for those below 17 years of age, in view of the emerging variants of concern (VOC) that are more transmissible being reported across the world, including the Delta, Delta Plus and Lambda variants.

The benefits of vaccination highly outweigh the risk, Dr Yii emphasised, and more so considering that schools will reopen in less than a month and that Covid-19 restrictions have been eased for the fully vaccinated that would enable inter-state and inter-district travel across the country.

“Data has shown that children and particularly adolescents can play a significant part in Covid-19 transmission, especially to high-risk groups including grandparents and other family members with comorbidities.

“Even though parents may be vaccinated, they are travelling back to meet their children who are unvaccinated, which not only put them at risk, but also risk their children to become reservoirs to spread to others, and even possibly a reservoir to develop new variants,” he said in a statement today.

Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Khairy Jamaluddin has told Parliament on July 28 that the Federal government has decided not to proceed with vaccination of those aged between 12 and 17 years for now, pending further studies and clinical data.

As the virus has evolved with more younger people getting infected even in Sarawak, Dr Yii shared that 15 of 2,867 Covid-19 deaths, which accounted for 0.52 per cent, reported in Malaysia as of June 1, occurred among children aged below 18.

“While they may recover, but we are still unsure of the long-term Covid-19 effects on them. That is why the considerations are different now compared to before, especially in view of the opening of schools and the relaxation of restrictions.

“While I do understand the concerns about the side effects such as myocarditis (heart inflammation) reported especially in the USA, such incidents are very small of about 40 cases per one million doses of the Pfizer vaccine that was administered to males aged 12 to 29,” he explained.

He also noted that the risk of boys aged 12 to 17 years old developing myocarditis and pericarditis from Covid-19 is estimated to occur at 876 per million, which meant 13 times more than the risk of them developing it from the mRNA vaccines (67 per million).

For girls aged 12 to 17 years old, he informed that the risk of developing myocarditis and pericarditis from primary Covid-19 infection is 213 per million or 24-fold the risk of getting it from the mRNA vaccines (nine per million).

“Besides the mRNA vaccines, other vaccines including Sinopharm and Sinovac have also been tested in young people over the age of 12. Several countries, including the United States, Israel and China, are now offering vaccines to this age group.

“Thus far, the vaccines seem to be safe in adolescents, and some companies have moved on to carrying out clinical trials in children as young as six-months-old. In the United States, vaccines for those under 12 might be available later this year.

“That is why I hope JKJAV will look through all the data again and realise that we need to protect our children even more. They consist of about 30 per cent of our population and I strongly believe it is our responsibility to make sure they are protected as much as possible,” he urged. — DayakDaily