ALOR SETAR, Feb 7 — The Kedah State Health Department (JKN) has targeted 80 per cent of children aged 5 to 12 in the state will receive their Covid-19 vaccine shots in six months through the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme for Children (PICKids).

Its director Dr Othman Warijo said based on statistics, there are 215,508 children aged 5 to 12 in the state.

“The PICKids programme in Kedah began yesterday with 10 children receiving the vaccine and today, we are expecting 40 children.

“Four special vaccination centres (SPPV) have been opened at Sultanah Bahiyah Hospital (HSB) Alor Setar; Sultan Abdul Halim Hospital (HSAH) Sungai Petani; Kulim Hospital and Sultanah Maliha Hospital, Langkawi for the purpose,” he said after officiating PICKids programme at Sutanah Bahiyah Hospital here today.

He said, based on data from the Kedah Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre (CPRC) a total of 22,067 children in the state had been infected with Covid-19 with three deaths recorded so far.

“In 2022 alone, of the 13,217 cases recorded in the state, 1,623 involved children aged 5 to 12 years and this is very alarming. As such, children must be vaccinated to protect them from being infected with the virus.

“As of last Saturday, a total of 33,930 children have registered for the vaccine through MySejahtera, but the number is still low as this represents only 15 per cent of the age group or 215,508 children in the state,” he said.

Dr Othman said so far, the department has not received any information of side effects on children who had received the vaccine and hoped this would convince parents to get their children vaccinated.

Meanwhile, a public sector worker Shuhaina Shuib, 36, when met at Sultanah Bahiyah Hospital lobby with her husband accompanied by their three children, Damia Nur Sara Mohd Dzarif, 11; Dahlia Nur Qisya, 9, and Muhammad Daiyan Ziyad, 6, said they were there to get the children vaccinated.

“They are excited to get their vaccine shots. To me as long as the vaccine is beneficial and is able to protect their health, I fully support the government and the Ministry of Health’s efforts.

“Moreover, almost every week, there are school children being infected, so naturally parents would be worried. But, if they are vaccinated they can be protected, “ she said. — Bernama