Don’t forget to get your children vaxxed

Uggah and Dr Sim during the press conference. Photo: Ghazali Bujang

KUCHING: A total of 272,500 children between five and 11 years old in Sarawak are eligible to participate in the Children’s Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICKids).

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said these students constituted 9.6 per cent of the state’s total population.

“Today, a total of 30 children with various comorbidities, including those immunocompromised and undergoing follow-up at Sarawak General Hospital (SGH), have been selected to receive the Pfizer vaccine under the supervision of this hospital’s paediatrician.

“Vaccination for children with other comorbidities will continue in government and private hospitals throughout Sarawak.

“Announcements on vaccination dates at other government hospitals will be done from time to time,” he told a press conference after launching the PICKids Sarawak at the SGH CRC Auditorium here, here on Thursday (Feb 3).

Elaborating further, Uggah said starting tomorrow (Feb 5), other school-going children would receive vaccine injections either at their respective schools or at vaccination centres that had been planned according to their respective Divisional Health Offices.

Uggah, who is also Infrastructure and Port Development Minister, reminded parents to keep in touch with the schools or teachers to find out the date of their children’s vaccination appointment.

“If the children miss the appointment, parents can contact private medical practitioners or the nearest government clinics involved in the COVID-19 vaccination programme to make a new appointment.

“For information, the Pfizer vaccine for children that we use is already approved by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) and has a much lower dose than the adult dose.

“The time interval between the first and second doses is eight weeks while for immunocompromised children, the recommended time interval is three weeks,” he said.

Meanwhile, on the percentage of booster dose coverage among eligible groups, Uggah said the state recorded a total of 83.3 per cent, the highest in the country.

However, he said there were still around 300,000 eligible people who had yet to get their booster jabs.

“As of Feb 2, Sarawak has achieved a second dose coverage percentage comprising 1,875,696 people (or 91.8 per cent) for the adult population aged 18 and above, 252,432 people (88.4 per cent) for teenagers 12 to 17 years old and 2,135,128 people (75.8 per cent) for the whole population of Sarawak,” he explained.

Accordingly, he appealed to those who have yet to receive their booster dose to come forward and get their jabs as soon as possible.

On the number of COVID-19 positive cases, Uggah said the state now recorded a relatively stable double-digit figure.

“Actually, we are quite worried that the positive cases in our state will increase after the state election.

“However, the high discipline and adherence to the standard operating procedures (SOPs), which are practised by the entire population in Sarawak, have managed to curb the increase in the number of positive cases in the state.

“With such an attitude, I am also confident this figure (the number of positive cases) will not increase after the Chinese New Year celebrations.

“Let us together continue to be disciplined and adhere to the SOPs so that we manage to control the spread of this virus and we will be able to live life as before,” he said, adding the high percentage of booster dose coverage in the state also contributed to a stable positive case number.

On another note, the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) chairman said a public survey conducted by the state Health Department on 40,000 respondents found that 59.7 per cent of them strongly agreed with the extension of COVID-19 vaccination for children between the ages of five and 11.

“A percentage of 59.7 strongly agree, 25.3 per cent are unsure and 15.0 per cent disagree.

“The main reason respondents ‘disagree’ or are ‘not sure’ is that they are worried about complications and safety of the vaccine and they want to be given a choice of the type of vaccine,” he said.

Meanwhile, explaining why children in the state should also be vaccinated, Deputy Chief Minister and Minister of Public Health, Housing and Local Government Datuk Seri Prof Dr Sim Hui Kian said COVID-19 virus could cause children diagnosed with multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) to become very severely affected because the virus not only targeted the heart but also the whole body.

Therefore, he said parents should ensure and register their children for vaccination so that they were better protected from the COVID-19 infection.

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