KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 20 — The Ministry of Health (MoH) today said that there has been a concerning rise of Covid-19 cases among children aged 18 and below, with 67 children recorded dying of the disease this year, up until yesterday.

MoH compared this to 2020, where the novel coronavirus was recorded as taking the lives of six children.

“Thus, MoH is aiming for 60 per cent of teenagers aged 12 to 17 to get at least one dose of the vaccine by November, and that 80 per cent of those who are eligible to be vaccinated are fully inoculated before schools reopen for the 2022 session,” it said in a statement this evening.

MoH stressed that the benefits of Covid-19 vaccine far outweigh the risks of getting an infection.

“Inflammation of the heart (myocarditis) or inflammation of the pericardium (pericarditis), is an effect that rarely happens,” it said, referring to side effects of vaccination.

It said the risk of getting heart inflammation due to Covid-19 is 37 times higher than the risk of getting myocarditis or pericarditis as a result of taking the vaccine.

It added that on the rare occurrence that the above vaccines side effects happen, it usually happens after taking both doses, and after a few days of being vaccinated. Also, it more commonly occurs among male children.

MoH reminded parents to monitor early symptoms such as chest pain, difficulty of breathing or a fast heartbeat rate after their children receive vaccination; and to immediately get a medical assessment if one of these symptoms show up.

It added that the children should not take part in any vigorous exercise or activities for a week after receiving vaccination.

Today marked the start of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NCIP) for Teenagers, which opened at the Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Putrajaya Presint 8 (1).

So far, Malaysia’s National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) has only approved the usage of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines for adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17.