KUALA LUMPUR: Schools with less than 1,000 students will be combined with neighbouring schools to speed up the Covid-19 inoculation process for 12 to 17-year-olds before schools begin physical lessons next year.
Deputy Health Minister I Datuk Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali, who is also the Covid-19 Immunisation Task force-Adolescent (CITF-A) chairman, said the move is to expedite the vaccination process for schools in rural areas or those with a student population of less than 1,000.
“The vaccination programme will be launched on Monday next week. It will be held in schools with more than 1,000 students.
“We have also approved the dissemination of vaccines to children aged 12-15 years. When we start the programme as a whole, the programme will be done in schools.
“For smaller schools such as those in rural areas, the ministry will combine neighbouring schools to reach 1,000 students to speed up the vaccination process in a single area,” he said.
Dr Noor Azmi was speaking to reporters at a press conference after launching the World Breastfeeding Week 2021 at Tunku Azizah Hospital here today.
He said students who are unable to join the programme at school will instead be given an appointment to get the Covid-19 jab at their local general practitioner (GP).
He said the move will ensure a safer environment for students once the school session reopens for physical classes next year, in addition to having fully-vaccinated teachers and school staff.
“There are 3.2 million students and from that, 1.1 million are 16 to 17 years-old. The group is a priority as well as their Form 6 Semester 2 peers who will be facing examinations soon.
“I hope we can get 60 per cent of the group to get the first jab within the next three months. We are targeting that 80 per cent will be fully inoculated before the new school term starts next year,” he said.
For students who have received their first dose of the vaccine and are returning to boarding schools before their second dose appointment, Dr Noor Azmi said these students can either receive the second dose at their respective schools or at the local GP.
It is understood the group will receive the Pfizer vaccines.
Dr Noor Azmi said the ministry is awaiting approval for the Sinovac vaccine from the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA).
On Sept 15, the Health Ministry announced that CITF-A, chaired by Dr Noor Azmi, will have its taskforce offering the Covid-19 vaccine to adolescents, with priority given to those aged 16 to 17 who will be taking public exams, as well as teens with co-morbidities.
The programme is also targeting students in the private education sector, adolescents in protection and rehabilitation programmes, and those within the refugee communities, homeless and non-citizens. -NST