KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 20 — Parents may apply for Covid-19 vaccination appointments for their children aged between five and 11 through the MySejahtera application beginning January 31, the Health Ministry announced today.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said parents may register their children as their dependents beginning January 31, with registration priorities given to parents residing in Klang Valley.

He said the vaccines will be administered in two doses with an eight-week interval from the initial jab to provide a higher efficacy rate as well as having the potential to provide longer lasting immunisation response against Covid-19.

“Recently, there has been an increase in Covid-19 infections among children especially after the opening of the school year,” he said in a statement.

“In addition, the new Omicron variant is found to be easily spread and has a high potential of infecting children as well as adults.

“Looking at the necessity to protect our child population, the Health Ministry though the Drug Control Authority having analysed the safety data and effectiveness, have agreed to grant conditional approval to the Comirnaty 10mcg Concentrate for Dispersion (Pfizer-BioNTech) vaccine on January 6 for use in children aged five to 11 years,” he said.

The vaccination programme — dubbed Covid-19 Immunisation Programme for Children (PICKids) — will be officially launched at Hospital Tunku Azizah, Kuala Lumpur, on February 3.

This followed the recent announcement made by the Special Committee on Covid-19 Vaccine Supply Access Guarantee (JKJAV) on inoculation of children aged between five and 11, scheduled to begin next month.

In a tweet yesterday, JKJAV said those eligible will only receive paediatric doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s Cominarty vaccine which has been proven to be safe and effective.

Citing data obtained from January 25, 2020 to January 19 this year, Khairy said Covid-19 cases involving individuals aged below 18 totalled 579,624 cases.

Of the 579,624 cases, a total of 269,773 involved children aged five to 11.

Khairy further said 31 Covid-19 fatalities recorded to date involved children aged five to 11.

“Data obtained from countries affected by the Omicron variant showed an increase in hospital admission amongst children.

“Apart from the risk of Long-Covid or post-Covid conditions, children infected with Covid-19 is also at higher risk of being diagnosed with Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C),” he said.

Explaining further, Khairy said one in 3,200 children infected with Covid-19 is at risk of MIS-C, where the patient could suffer from serious medical complications such as prolonged fever, low blood pressure, seizures and organ inflammation.

This, he said, would also cause irreparable damage to the child’s overall psychological state, learning development and social life.

The paediatric dose is a smaller dose of the vaccine, equivalent to one-third of the dosage given to individuals aged 12 and above.

It is a special formulation for children and is supplied in a 10-dose vial (orange lid) which should be mixed with 1.3ml of common saline solution.

JKJAV said clinical trials found that the risk of symptomatic Covid-19 infection in vaccinated children is reduced by 90 per cent, with post-vaccination side effects ranging only from mild to moderate.

It also said children with comorbidities or those at high risk of contracting severe Covid-19 infections will be prioritised for vaccination

Those with a history of severe allergies (anaphylaxis) against medicines, food or unknown ingredients, including those who developed allergic reactions within 72 hours of their first jab, will be ineligible from receiving the vaccine.

As with other publicly available vaccines, Khairy said the Cominarty vaccine can cause mild to short-termed side effects such as soreness, dizziness, fatigue, shivers and fever.

“This vaccination programme for children has also begun implementation in countries such as the United States, Singapore, Canada, Israel and Australia.

Khairy said the ministry was targeting 70 per cent of the children population aged between five to 11 to be administered the vaccine within two months after the inoculation programme kicks off early February, with 80 per cent expected to receive their full dosage in six months.