KUALA LUMPUR, July 28 — Malaysia is stopping its plans to inoculate those aged between 12 and 17 against Covid-19 for the time being, Khairy Jamaluddin told Parliament today.
The science, technology and innovation minister said the decision to suspend the vaccination for adolescents here was based on reports of cardiac-related side effects among teenage recipients of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines in the US.
“The reason is that, based on reports of side effects in the US, there were incidents of myocarditis or heart inflammation, in as many as 40 cases per one million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine that was administered to males aged 12 to 29.
“These incidents, although few, is still a little worrying, and the JKJAV has recommended that we wait and obtain data from other countries before deciding to go ahead with vaccinating teenagers,” he said in the Dewan Rakyat this afternoon.
The JKJAV refers to the Special Committee on Ensuring Access to Covid-19 Supply.
Khairy who is also the coordinating minister for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme said Malaysia’s suspension is similar to the decision adopted by the UK.
The government had just opened registration for the Covid-19 vaccination on the MySejahtera app for adolescents in Malaysia after the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) gave its approval.
Khairy said even though none of the reported cases of cardiac side effects developed into serious cases or caused death, the unknown long term effects of both myocarditis and pericarditis towards the teenagers led the government to halt the initiative.
He also admitted the recent findings had affected the government’s’ plans to inoculate exam-year students.
“We wanted to give SPM students the vaccine but after getting the views of the experts including paediatric cardiologists, the government decided to err on the side of caution for the sake of the young adolescents,” he added.
However, Khairy said Covid-19 vaccines would be offered on a voluntary basis to adolescents suffering from co-morbidities and are among the high-risk group of contracting Covid-19.
“Teenagers with chronic illnesses and those who are immunocompromised will be offered the Covid-19 vaccine, and it will only be available for that group of teenagers for now,” he added.