Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen has called on the federal government and the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) to get children aged 12-18 vaccinated in order to reach herd immunity by August.
“With children aged 12-18 years old estimated to be up to 30 percent of our population, the government must look at finding ways to identify and include them as part of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NIP) as soon as possible in order to reach sufficient rates of Covid-19 vaccination,” he said.
He added that the same principle would apply to migrants, whether they be documented or undocumented, whom he estimated to collectively number around five million.
Yii noted that 82,341 children had been infected with Covid-19 from Jan 25, 2020 until May 30, 2021 - with the vast majority of cases occurring in 2021.
"While in most cases, the severity of symptoms in children is lesser, we cannot rule out the risk that children can and do spread Covid-19 to adults which may have more devastating effects especially among the elderly."
Yii said it is important to find ways to better protect children, given their exposure to public areas such as schools, once they reopen.
The DAP MP's statement follows recent remarks by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin that Kuala Lumpur may achieve herd immunity by August this year.
The prime minister claimed that the opening of more vaccination centres (PPV) would allow more people in the federal territory to get vaccinated.
Muhyiddin also said the government is drafting a National Recovery Plan in preparation for Malaysia’s post-pandemic recovery.
“Countries around the world including the USA, Canada, Singapore, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan, and others have given approval for children 12-18 years old to be vaccinated based on available data of vaccine safety for children," said Yii.
He observed that opening early registration for children is essential to educate the public on the importance and safety of vaccines for that age group.
Yii also highlighted the importance of providing protection for the migrant community in order to reach herd immunity.
"The harder the government clamps down on them, the more they will go into hiding.
"That is why this issue must be looked at in the lens of public health rather than of politics," he said.
This comes after Home Minister Hamzah Zainudin initially took a hardline stance on cracking down on undocumented migrants at the start of the current "total lockdown".
After much criticism on the matter, the minister said he is working closely with NIP Coordinating Minister Khairy Jamaluddin to ensure migrants receive their vaccinations.
Hamzah said Malaysians must understand that every foreigner in the country must be vaccinated in order for the country to reach herd immunity.