Vaccination for students aged 12-15 starts ahead of schedule

Dr Sim Kui Hian

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By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Sept 25: Covid-19 vaccinations for children aged between 12 to 15-years-old in Sarawak has already kicked off yesterday, earlier than initially planned following the return of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines loaned to Sabah.

Minister for Local Government and Housing Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian pointed out that vaccination for teens aged 16 to 17 in Sarawak have been completed and vaccine rollout for kids 12-years-old and above was initially planned to begin next month.

“But because Sabah has returned us the vaccine much earlier, we have brought forward the vaccination schedule for kids and it has already started yesterday.

“With the vaccine now available, the most important thing is to get it into the body and not sit in the fridge,” he told reporters when visiting SJK Chung Hua Batu 4 1/2 at Jalan Penrissen here to present a grant for the upgrading of a new school block today.

Dr Sim, who is also State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) advisor, explained that the vaccines will be rolled out school by school which schedules have been planned.

With the hard work and close collaboration from all sectors including Sarawakians, he emphasised that Sarawak has been able to move fast with vaccination to become the first State in Malaysia to start vaccination for teens and now younger children.

“Vaccination is really important to protect our people including our children from the severity of illnesses related to Covid-19, as well as to prevent deaths and hospitalisation. There is no question about that (the efficacy of vaccines),” he reminded.

Dr Sim once again urged children who are no longer in schools and anyone eligible who have yet to receive their vaccine jabs to walk in at any vaccination centres (PPVs) in Sarawak still operating to get vaccinated.

“This is not only to protect themselves, but also their families, loved ones and the community at large,” he added.

With the policy change as Sarawak prepares for Covid-19 endemic to live with the virus, Dr Sim reminded that people will also need to change and be ready to live with some form of restriction or new normal so that life can go on and the economy can reopen safely.

“As such, self-testing, self-monitoring, self-isolation or quarantine will be the way forward as 99.9 per cent of people who contracted Covid-19 are currently classified as Category 1 and 2, with no or mild symptoms.

“We can then focus on the one per cent in clinical Category 3, 4 and 5 who would most probably be hospitalised with some in ICU (intensive care unit) requiring ventilation and oxygen support,” he said.

In addition, booster shots will also be coming for Sarawakians with priority to be given to the frontliners especially in the healthcare sector and high-risk individuals first.

He also pointed out that many countries have given up the aim for zero-Covid-19 cases, which he said was “nearly impossible” with the onset of the Delta variant, including Singapore that has managed to control the pandemic well but is now also seeing a surge in cases.

“No one in the world can do that now with the onset of the Delta variant. Before Delta, we tried (to eliminate Covid-19) but now the situation has changed not only for Sarawak but across the world,” he added. — DayakDaily