Children between the ages of 12 and 17 are expected to be included in the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme in its fifth phase, says Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba today (9 June).
He said this phase, which would likely kick off in August, would only take place if the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) gives its approval for the Pfizer vaccine to be used on children in this age group.
Dr Adham said as most of the Pfizer vaccine supply is expected to have arrived by then and herd immunity for adults would have been achieved, the government intends to ensure children are protected from the virus.
“Data on the safety and efficacy of the vaccines in children is already out and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved its use on children. However, locally, Pfizer would need to submit an application to the NPRA to expand the use of its Covid-19 vaccine in children aged 12 and above.
“In the interim, the Special Committee on Covid-19 Vaccine Supply Access Guarantee and the Disease Control Division under the Health Ministry would also have to endorse the use of the vaccine in children,” he was quoted as saying.
Dr Adham also explained that neighbouring countries like Singapore and the Philippines have already approved the Pfizer vaccine for children in a similar age bracket.
In May, the Pfizer vaccine was also authorised for use in children as young as 12 in Europe, the United States and Canada. They receive the same dose as adults: 30 micrograms.
Inoculating children and young people is considered a critical step toward reaching “herd immunity” and bringing the Covid-19 pandemic under control.