BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Brunei will begin vaccinating adolescents aged 12 to 17 on Monday (Oct 8), in a bid to push the national vaccination rate above 80 percent by year’s end.
The Ministry of Health last month approved use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in teens, and plans to administer it to around 38,000 students registered in public and private schools, as well as religious and international schools, over the next two weeks.
The official schedule has not been made available yet, but the Ministry of Education said on Thursday that it will be uploaded to MoE’s social media platforms and disseminated to parents via their children’s respective schools.
The ministry began distributing consent forms to parents in late October ahead of the vaccine rollout for teens. Parents will need to register their children under the BruHIMS patient management system before they can receive the shot.
Children with allergies or chronic health issues must be reviewed by a doctor, who will recommend whether the child can be vaccinated.
Over-12s will be given two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which has been approved for use in adolescents in Malaysia, Singapore, the UK and US, among others.
The education minister said students who are not able to attend their vaccination appointments must inform their schools, to allow the ministry to reschedule their appointment.
He also urged parents to follow the set schedule so that the programme will run smoothly.
Vaccinations will be carried out at the SHHB Indoor Stadium; UBD; MRS Bolkiah; Jubli Emas Health Centre in Bunut; Dewan Seri Kenangan in Tutong; Panaga Health Clinic; Suri Seri Begawan Hospital in Belait; and Belalong Community Hall in Temburong.
Teens who have already left school will be eligible for walk-in vaccinations once the vaccination of school-going children is complete.
YB Dato Hamzah also called on teachers who have not yet been inoculated to come forward. To date, 84 percent of teachers have been double-jabbed, while 97 percent have received at least one dose.
Reopening of schools
The Secretariat to the Steering Committee on COVID-19 said it is likely that schools will remain closed for the rest of the year, with school holidays set to begin in early December.
“We estimate that by the time all of them [12-17 year-olds] have had their two doses, then schools may reopen. The task force is still reviewing it, but they have not finalised the recommendations yet,” Dr Hjh Anie Haryani Hjh Abdul Rahman, who serves on the secretariat, told reporters in an interview last week.
“The taskforce that looks at education and reopening of schools is reviewing this very closely, because while they are keen to open up schools as soon as possible, they also need to make sure the children are safe… So schools may not be quite ready to reopen in the immediate future.”