In efforts to protect young children ages 5 to 11 from Covid-19, the Malaysian Health Ministry has recently kicked off the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme for Children (PICKids).
When it comes to our child’s health, we may feel apprehensive and want more information — especially when it comes to vaccines. We speak to Dr Yeoh Tze Hau, our panel paediatrician to shed more light on the immunisation programme.
What Covid-19 vaccine will my child receive?
“Similar to the adult Cominarty vaccine, this Comirnaty vaccine for children is an mRNA vaccine, but at a lower dose. This vaccine has undergone detailed and tightly controlled clinical trials to ensure its quality, safety, and efficacy. Result of the clinical trial has shown an efficacy rate of 90.7% and is able to increase the immunity response against COVID-19 infection,” shared Dr Yeoh encouragingly.
He added that the vaccination program requires two doses whereby the second dose will be given after an interval of eight weeks. “Based on the recent available data, this interval will be able to provide higher immune response and efficacy as well as longer protection.”
Will my child experience any side effects from the Covid-19 vaccine?
Common side effects that your child might experience are such as:
Swelling at injection site
“These side effects may affect your child’s ability to daily activities but should go away in a few days,” reassured Dr Yeoh.
He added that some children may not even experience any side effects, severe allergic reactions to the vaccine are rare, and the incidence of heart muscle inflammation (myocariditis) is extremely low.
What is the Ministry of Health (MOH) advisory on vaccinating children?
“In the span of two years from 25 January 2020 until 19 January 2022, total number of Covid-19 cases among children and adolescents aged below 18 are more than 500,000 cases, of which almost 1 in 2 are between the ages of 5 to 11.”
“Besides long-term complications of Covid-19 that can last for a few weeks or longer (long COVID syndrome), they are also at higher risk of developing a serious complication from COVID-19 infection known as Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C).”
“ Recently, we also saw an increase in COVID-19 infection among children especially after school recommenced beginning 2022. And with the emergence of the new Omicron variant, it is easier for the infection to spread among high-risk groups such as the children and elderly. Hence, the Ministry of Health has granted conditional approval to the Comirnaty vaccine (manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech) for usage in children ages 5 to 11.”
How do I explain to my children about the Covid-19 vaccine?
“Fortunately, there are a lot of resources available tailored for children’s understanding — educational websites are such an example. My advice would be for parents to go through these resources, then sit together and watch with them. It is normal for children to have a lot of questions, so be patient and address these questions,” advised Dr Yeoh.
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