The government has agreed to vaccinate teenagers aged 12 and above with underlying medical conditions to minimise their risk of exposure to severe Covid-19 effects once they return to school.
Health Minister Dr Adham Baba said the Pfizer vaccine was the first to be approved for those aged 12 to 18 who are immunocompromised or who have been diagnosed with chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
He said this group would be prioritised for vaccination among teachers and school staff in Phase Two and Three of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK) to prepare for the reopening of schools, with the rest to wait for their turn in the following phase.
“We recommend vaccination for adolescents at a higher risk of severe Covid-19 due to underlying conditions, who may benefit from the Pfizer vaccine.
“These are the adolescent categories we have considered for vaccination,” he said. “We are giving them a chance to protect themselves in the future.”
PICK coordinating minister Khairy Jamaluddin said teenagers without underlying health conditions would receive their jabs once Phase Three ends.
He said the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) was also looking at data from other countries that are already vaccinating teenagers.
“For adolescents with no underlying conditions, the plan right now is to consider vaccinating them after we have finished vaccinating the adult population.
“By the time we finish Phase Three, we will have enough data to see whether we will proceed with vaccinating teenagers with Pfizer or Sinovac,” he said.
“But for the moment, we will only give (jabs) to adolescents with underlying conditions who are planning to go back to school.”
Adham meanwhile said the national Covid-19 vaccine injury fund has not been used as only 0.07 reports for every 1,000 doses given have been classified as serious side effects requiring hospitalisation.
He added that 1.4 reports on immunisation effects are received for every 1,000 doses administered, based on feedback on side effects after vaccination submitted through the MySejahtera application.
“The majority of cases reported require short-term hospitalisation where patients are discharged after receiving the proper treatment.
“So far, we have not used the fund for those experiencing serious side effects from the Covid-19 vaccination,” he said.
The government announced in February that those who suffer from severe side effects from Covid-19 vaccine will be compensated under the national Covid-19 vaccine injury fund.
RM10 million was allocated for the fund managed by the National Disaster Management Agency.