KUALA LUMPUR: The vaccination programme for children aged five to 11 will start soon after Malaysia’s Drug Control Authority grants conditional approval for the administration of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine to children in that age group.

Although the vaccine dosage will be much lower than that administered to adolescents and adults, many parents have felt uneasy about the move and have taken to social media to voice their concerns, saying their children are too young to be immunised against Covid-19.

In fact, lawyer and mother of 10 Asiah Abdul Jalil lodged a police report at the Kuantan district police station on Jan 7 to record her objection for a booster dose to be administered to her children aged between 12 and 19, as well as the first dose for the ones aged between five and 11.

However, medical experts believe that vaccinating children in the five to 11 age group is the best way to reduce the risk of infection among children.

No adverse events have been reported in countries that have started giving the vaccine to young kids.

Some 5.9 million children in Malaysia, aged between five and 11, are expected to receive the vaccine following Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin’s announcement on Jan 6.

He said children from the five to 11 age group would receive a dose of 10 micrograms (mcg) Concentration for Dispersion for Injection, compared to the new 30mcg dose of Comirnaty (Tris/Sucrose) formulation that adolescents will get.

Hospital Universiti Teknologi Mara deputy director (clinical) and respiratory medicine expert Assoc Prof Dr Ahmad Izuanuddin Ismail said the issue of children’s safety should not arise as many countries had used it.

“The United States, European countries and our neighbour Singapore are among them. So far, it has been successful,” he told Bernama.

Dr Ahmad Izuanuddin said that since data was already available on the vaccine’s safety in children of that age group, Malaysian parents should not delay their children’s vaccination.

“We can no longer delay the administration of this vaccine for our children’s protection. New variants such as Omicron are causing a surge in Covid-19 cases worldwide. We’ve also been told another new variant, IHU, has been detected in France,” he added.

He said although the effects of the Covid-19 infection on children were not as severe as that of older people who belong to the high-risk group, there were concerns over the long-term effects of the disease on children’s lungs.

“This (vaccination) is part of efforts to ensure the virus does not directly attack the lungs, especially in children who have asthma.

“A recent study in Scotland showed children who have severe asthma are more prone to Covid-19 infection. In addition, they also risk developing lung complications if infected. This is why children are encouraged to receive the vaccine,” he explained.

Universiti Putra Malaysia Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences senior lecturer Dr Masriana Hassan said the vaccine dosage for children below 12 had been determined by the relevant bodies, including the US Food and Drug Administration’s panel of advisers and the vaccine manufacturer.

Dr Masriana, who is with the Immunology Unit at the Department of Pathology, said it was normal for children to develop certain symptoms, including fever, after getting the Covid-19 shot as the vaccine would react to the recipient’s body.

Allaying concerns over the vaccine’s safety, she said the latest data and studies done in other countries have not shown any severe complications in children within that age group.

“For now, it may be difficult to get the best and most comprehensive data because it (vaccine) is still new. However, the existing data can be used as a reference,” she added.