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Paediatric specialist Dr Musa Mohd Nordin is renewing his call to vaccinate children aged 12 to 17 in advance of schools reopening on Sept 1.
Musa, who is outspoken about public health issues in the country, however, cautioned that not all vaccines are suitable for children.
“Pfizer or Moderna. Both mRNA vaccines are the best researched and have various published clinical trials, on top of real-world experience,” Musa said when contacted by Malaysiakini.
The resident doctor at KPJ Damansara Specialist Hospital was not happy with the recent decision to suspend its plan to vaccinate those aged between 12-17 against Covid-19, citing the risk of myocarditis.
“I would like to take to task the experts in the Special Committee on Ensuring Access to Covid-19 Vaccine Supply (JKJAV) who have counselled the minister to withhold the immunisation of children between the ages of 12-17 years because of the risk of myocarditis.
“This wait and see attitude is diametrically opposed to the position of the JKJAV when they extricated the AstraZeneca vaccine from the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme and rolled out the AstraZeneca vaccine like a lottery,” said Musa.
Musa was referring to the rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in May, which was marred by accusations of mishandling and lack of organisation.
Citing data from the United States Center for Diseases Control (CDC) due to the lack of data from the Malaysian Health Ministry, Musa said the risk of children developing myocarditis due to Covid-19 complication was far higher compared to vaccination.
Myocarditis refers to the inflammation of the heart muscle, and pericarditis is inflammation of the outer lining of the heart.
The CDC reports that the risk of myocarditis in 12 to 17-year-old boys is 67 per million.
However, recent research has shown that this risk is 13 times with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, estimated at 876 per million.
For girls, this is 24 times higher with natural Covid infection.
“I think the figures speak for themselves. The benefits of vaccinating our 12 to 17-year-old boys and girls far outweigh the risks of myocarditis and pericarditis associated with the mRNA vaccines.
“I am sure all my colleagues in paediatrics, family medicine and general practice would be on high alert to pick out the cases, refer and report them promptly to our paediatric cardiologists, the Health Ministry and the JKJAV, when the mRNA vaccine is allowed in this 12-17 age group, hopefully, sooner rather than later,” Musa added.
Yesterday, Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii said it was time that the federal government and the JKJAV considered reversing the decision to withhold the immunisation of children between the ages of 12 and 17 in our country.
Yii said the benefit of vaccination highly outweighs the risks, especially in view of the emerging variants of concern that are more transmissible being reported across the world, including the Delta, Lambda and Delta Plus variants.