Vaccine: Ongoing efforts needed to raise awareness among school students, adolescents

by BERNAMA / pic by HUSSEIN SHAHARUDDIN

KUALA LUMPUR – Explanation on the COVID-19 vaccine should be given on an ongoing basis to adolescents or school students so that they are more aware of disease prevention in curbing the spread of the pandemic among the group.

National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Wang Heng Suan said even though there was no law requiring students to take the vaccine, counsellors at State Education Departments, District Education Offices and schools should play their roles in raising awareness on the importance of vaccination to students.

“Vaccination is really important to curb the spread of COVID-19 infection, thus ensuring the education system works well. Administering vaccine to adolescents is the best way to prevent infection among them.

“Parents should understand the pandemic situation and cooperate by registering their children as vaccine recipients so that the country’s education ecosystem is not affected,” he said to Bernama recently.

Wang said the COVID-19 pandemic was a challenge to teachers and students in continuing the teaching and learning session as it not only involves the life of a patient but also a community or population.

He said NUTP believed that schools would adhere to the standard operating procedures (SOP) stipulated by the Education Ministry, including measures to curb COVID-19 transmission, when students begin to return to school in stages from Oct 3.

The National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme for Adolescents was officially launched on Sept 20 targeting some 3.2 million individuals aged between 12 and 17.

However, the programme started earlier in Sarawak on Sept 8 and Labuan on Sept 11 after the vaccination rate in the state and federal territory achieved 80 per cent while in Sabah, the programme started on Sept 16 because a majority of the teenagers lived in remote areas and needed more time to participate in outreach activities.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Headmasters Council president Sukimin Juki said inoculating school students was the best way to create a safe ecosystem at school.

“Not only teachers, management and support staff that need to be vaccinated, but also students in order to create a safe bubble among them.

“Maybe not 100 per cent, but this is among the best measure to create a safe ecosystem at school at the moment,” he said.

Malaysian School Principals Council vice president Mohd Ariffin Abdul Rahman said although school members and students have been vaccinated, the best course of action was to comply with all the SOP that had been outlined.

“We were informed that with vaccination, COVID-19 infection will not be too serious, but if we comply with the SOP, the infection will not occur at all.

“However, if you have been vaccinated but do not comply with the SOP, there is still a possibility of infection. We don’t want that to happen so the additional measure is by observing the SOP no matter where we are,” he said.