No teen will be left behind, not even the undocumented, pledges MoH of Covid-19 jabs

People queue as they wait to receive their Covid-19 jab at the Axiata Arena in Bukit Jalil September 23, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
People queue as they wait to receive their Covid-19 jab at the Axiata Arena in Bukit Jalil September 23, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

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KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 23 — The Ministry of Health (MoH) has promised that it will make Covid-19 vaccinations available to all teenagers aged 12 to 17 who are living in Malaysia, irrespective of their citizenship status.

Dr Saidatul Norbaya Buang, a public health expert from MoH’s Family Health Development Division, said that it is running programmes to vaccinate teenagers in “hard-to-reach populations” such as undocumented migrants and those living in rural areas.

“We will be taking a similar approach to what we did for adults in hard-to-reach populations. MoH has mobile teams who are targeting Orang Asli villages as well as rural areas. We will ride on the same approach and when they vaccinate the adults, they will vaccinate the children too,” she said during a media sharing session today.

“The biggest challenge would be those who are homeless, for example, in Kuala Lumpur. For this group, we will need the help of NGOs (non-governmental organisations).

“For teenagers currently held in immigration depots, we are working with the Immigration Department to give them the vaccine. And as with the adults, we don’t want the authorities to use force, penalise or catch them (illegal immigrants) when they come for their vaccination,” she said.

Dr Saidatul added that another challenge faced by the ministry is determining which teenagers are above the age of 12 in the absence of identification or medical documents, adding that officials will be depending on confirmation from community leaders.

The National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme, which initially only covered adults aged 18 above, started including adolescents from the ages 12 to 17 as of September 20.

MoH has said it is aiming to fully inoculate 80 per cent of eligible children before schools reopen in early 2022.

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