Let children have access to vaccines too, says ex-health minister

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PETALING JAYA: The government should buy more readily available vaccines for the general public and use the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children under 18, says former health minister Dzulkefly Ahmad.

He said by the time the remaining procured vaccines arrive, the jabs could be given to children above 12 as there would be better data from abroad on the safety of these other vaccines.

His call comes after the US and Canada authorised the use of the Pfizer vaccine for children between the ages of 12 and 15.

Dzulkefly also said it is best to have a better ventilation system for children in schools as this would allow proper airflow.

Dzulkefly Ahmad.

He said although asking younger children to wear masks might be difficult, parents should encourage them, especially those above two, to wear some form of face covering and not take them out unnecessarily unless it was an emergency.

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“For those children above seven, they might benefit from two masks or they might want to consider wearing a face shield,” he said.

Dzukefly reiterated that the onus was on the education ministry to provide such materials to schools for use by these children.

He said that physical distancing was also important because children were always active and moving about.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) said vaccination of teenagers with vaccines proven safe should start once high-risk groups had received their jabs.

MMA president Dr Subramaniam Muniandy said there were no new recommendations except for double masking to help lower the number of Covid-19 cases among children.

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“For now, children should stay home and avoid close contact with non-household members,” he told FMT.

“Parents should also ensure their children maintain strict hygiene and that they wash their hands often with soap.”

Dr Subramaniam Muniandy.

Subramaniam said parents should also educate their children as much as they can on the pandemic and why these preventive measures are important.

It was reported that a total of 48,261 children and babies in Malaysia had been infected with Covid-19 as of last Tuesday.

Senior minister for security Ismail Sabri Yaakob said children were not immune to getting infected with the virus.

“If before this, the elderly were the ones at risk of contracting Covid-19, it seems that now, the virus threat has spread to the children,” he said.

He said this development was a concern and should be a wake-up call to all, especially

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