LETTER | Suhakam pleased with govt’s vaccination drive for children

As the Children’s Commissioner (CC) of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam), I am pleased with the recent government’s decision to allow children aged 12 to 17 to be vaccinated with the Comirnaty vaccine produced by Pfizer-BioNTech.

On May 31, The Star Online reported that over 82,000 children had been tested positive for Covid-19 in Malaysia. According to Health Minister Dr Adham Baba, of the total number of children infected, 19,851 cases were children below four years old; 8,237 cases between five and six years old; 26,851 (seven to 12 years old) and 27,402 (13 to 17 years old) who were Covid-19 patients in categories 1, 2 and 3.

The director-general of Health, Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, had earlier this month reported that three children under the age of five had died and 27 children had been admitted to paediatric intensive care units in 2021, with 19 of them aged under five.

The rising number of cases of children being infected with Covid-19 – and even the several deaths due to the virus – are indeed very worrying.

By virtue of Article 24 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), it is the duty of a state party to take appropriate measures to diminish infant and child mortality.

Our government is, in some ways, fulfilling its responsibility under the CRC by allowing children aged 12 to 17 to be vaccinated, as fewer children would be at risk of being infected with the disease and contribute towards achieving herd immunity in the country.

Vaccination is a critical tool to stop the continued spread of Covid-19. The CC appeals to all parents to register their children aged 12 years and above for Covid-19 vaccination, as this would enhance individual and community protection against the virus. People, in this case children who are fully vaccinated, would likely be able to resume normal activities, including going to school, to play and have recreational activities.

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