The National Immunisation Programme (PICK) has revealed its fourth and fifth phases aimed at those working in essential economic sectors and children between the ages of 12–17. Khairy Jamaluddin, the coordinating minister for PICK, announced that Phase 4 will begin on 16 June in Pengerang, Johor, and will be aimed at those working in critical economic sectors.
According to Khairy, critical economic sectors include manufacturing, export, logistics and transport, energy, utilities, and others that need to continue operating throughout the movement control order (MCO). He explained that Phase 4 will start at the Petronas complex in Pengerang on June 16 as the location has been identified as high-risk, with more locations to follow.
Children are also expected to be included in the vaccination programme, as Phase 5 was announced by Health Minister Dr Adham Baba. In addition, Baba said that while this phase would start as soon as August, it is subject to approval by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) for use on children in that age group. As per NPRA regulations, only those over 18 are currently allowed to be given the approved vaccines.
Dr Adham specified that so far, only Pfizer has submitted a request for its vaccine to be used on children and that they are still waiting for a reply to its letter to the NPRA dated May 31.
Citing Pfizer’s recent approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use on children, the health minister stated that it still needs to be approved locally and that the Special Committee on Covid-19 Vaccine Supply Access Guarantee and the Disease Control Division under the Health Ministry would also have to endorse the use of the vaccine in children.
The health minister also mentioned that neighbouring countries, such as Singapore and the Philippines, have already approved the Pfizer vaccine for children of similar ages.