Children between 12 and 17 years need to be vaccinated as benefits outweigh risks – Dr Yii

Dr Kelvin Yii – Picture from the New Sarawak Tribune

By S. Harrish

THE government has been urged to consider reversing its decision to withhold the Covid-19 immunisation of children between the ages of 12 and 17 in the country.

Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii said the benefits of vaccination highly outweighs the risks especially in view of more variants of concern, including the Delta, Lambda and Delta Plus variants.

He said the Special Committee on Covid-19 Vaccine Supply (JKJAV) should reconsider it as schools will be opened in less than a month and also the easing of regulations that allows inter-state travel for fully vaccinated parents to meet children below 18 years old.

“While parents may be vaccinated, they are travelling back to meet their children who are unvaccinated, which puts them at risk and also makes them a reservoir to spread to others and even possibly develop new variants.”

He said data shows that children, particularly adolescents, can play a significant role in Covid-19 transmissions, especially to high-risk groups including grandparents and other family members with comorbidities.

“As we can see with the new variants, the disease pattern has changed and younger people are getting infected with Covid-19 even in Sarawak.”

Dr Yii said some children developed more severe symptoms, and in some extreme cases even resulted in death.

“While I do understand the concern of side effects such as myocarditis (heart inflammation) reported especially in the US, such incidents are very small with 40 cases per one million doses of the Pfizer vaccine that was given to males aged 12 to 29.”

He said mostly experience a mild illness, and virtually all of them recovered spontaneously or with minimal treatment and no deaths have been reported so far.
However, the risk of boys aged 12 to 17 years old developing myocarditis and pericarditis from Covid-19 is estimated to occur in 876 children per million.

This is 13 times more than the risk of them developing it from the mRNA vaccines (67 per million).

For girls aged 12 to 17 years old, the risk of developing myocarditis and pericarditis from Covid-19 infection is 213 per million.

This is 24 times higher than the risk of getting it from the mRNA vaccines (nine children per million).

“These figures speak for themselves. The benefits of vaccinating boys and girls aged 12 to 17 years clearly outweigh the risks of myocarditis and pericarditis associated with the mRNA vaccines.”

The DAP parliamentarian said that besides the mRNA vaccines, other vaccines including Sinopharm and Sinovac has also been tested in young people over age of 12.

Several countries, including the United States, Israel and China, are now offering vaccines to this age group, he said.

Dr Yii added that some companies have moved on to carrying out clinical trials in children as young as six months old and in the US, vaccines for those under 12 might be available later this year.