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Vaccinated Adults vs. Unvaccinated Children: What Parents Should Know

by on 01/06/2021 4044

COVID-19 infections in Malaysia are at the highest daily average reported since the pandemic began. The current numbers showed that children and babies are increasingly vulnerable to the virus, contrary to what earlier studies suggested. Over 40k children and babies in Malaysia are infected with COVID-19 to date (1).   

As more and more doses of vaccines are being administered to Malaysian adults and older teens by the day, this leaves children, who do not yet qualify for a vaccine, susceptible to infection. Here is what parents may want to know so that children can be protected from the virus before vaccines become available to them.

1. When will COVID-19 vaccines be available to children under 12?

Currently, biopharmaceutical companies are undertaking clinical trials to test the safety and efficacy of coronavirus vaccines for children under 12. The results are expected to be available in September or October this year (including approximately 1 month for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to give it the green light).

It will then depend on the Malaysian government to announce when and what vaccines will be available to children.  

On June 15, 2021, Malaysia’s National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency has approved Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine for use in children aged 12 years and above (2). “Although this has been approved for children, the vaccination priority will still be for high-risk groups,” says health director-general Dr. Noor Hisham.

Countries like United States, Canada and Singapore have also approved the use of the Pfizer vaccine in children as young as 12 years of age.

Regulators in China are the first to approve the use of the Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccine for children under 12 years (3). However, no dates have been set for young children to receive the shots.  

Meanwhile, remember to make sure that children’s other routine vaccinations such as measles and influenza are continuing as normal.  

2. Should children get vaccinated (when they are eligible to)?

Yes. Children who are infected can transmit the virus to others. Parents should consider the COVID-19 vaccine for their children to protect against potential harm to the child and others, including family and friends.

3. Would side effects be the same in children getting vaccines?

According to Pfizer, yes. Similar side effects like pain at the arm, tiredness, achy muscles, headache and fever are possible in children. However, they are usually temporary and should clear up within 48 hours.  

4. With adults being vaccinated, do children (who are not vaccinated) still need to wear face masks?

Yes. Health experts advise children to continue wearing face masks when out in public and at schools even as more adults are getting vaccinated. But it is not recommended for children younger than 2 years to wear masks.  

5. Can vaccinated family friends or grandparents interact with unvaccinated children?

The U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that unvaccinated children should still wear face masks in most settings, especially when indoors around people who do not live in the same household.

6. What are safe activities for unvaccinated children?  

Right now, everyone should stay at home as much as possible. But unvaccinated children can enjoy outdoor activities that allow plenty of space between them and others. Spending time cycling in the neighbourhood or walking in a park pose a lower risk of spreading the virus than public indoor activities do. 

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