THE next phase of vaccination involving children is a tricky one.
If a British Medical Journal (Aug 16) editorial, titled "Profiteering from vaccine inequity: A crime against humanity?", is to be believed, it is time to pause and think about the next course of action.
The article says that some pandemic strategies are "hanging by a thread, at the whim of big pharma and popularity politics in the West", in reference to what is going on in east Asia.
Adding to this is the question of moral scandal, which is tantamount to a crime against humanity when we are complicit by our silence, it said.
Although this is more directed to the issue of vaccine inequity globally, the vaccination of children and adolescents of a certain age group can also be viewed in the same light, and more so because they are children or adolescents.
And this group, often regarded by many as young adults, is then subjected to the same rules applicable to the adult world.
At the end of the day, they suffer the same consequences, namely due to commercial greed and political self-interest.
So much so that British charity Oxfam has accused the G20 group of rich nations of putting relations with pharmaceutical companies ahead of ending the Covid-19 pandemic.
Against this backdrop, we begin to appreciate why a judicial review application was filed at the Penang High Court on behalf of 18 children by a Penang legal team in view of the vaccination programme for those aged 12 to 17.
The leave and stay application was filed on Aug 30 with a certificate of urgency.
The court has fixed Oct 4 for the attorney-general to file his written submissions, and Oct 15 for the hearing online.
The proposed approach in the judicial review application is outlined as follows:
It is by law a choice whether someone wants to be vaccinated or otherwise. The vaccines are given conditional registration in Malaysia.
And one of the eligibility conditions is "existing products have not been successful in eradicating the disease or preventing outbreaks".
In rolling out the vaccination programme for 12 to 17 year olds, informed consent should be obtained from parents.
Getting informed consent from patients is a requirement for medical practitioners under the Malaysian Medical Council guidelines.
Those vaccinated were asked to sign a consent form, although whether they read and understood it is debatable.
They may have had access to a consumer medication information leaflet.
Whether written information is suitable for 12 to 17 year olds is relevant to ask.
We should also ask if parents or guardians, who will be signing on their children's behalf, can explain it adequately to the children.
Ultimately, who decides?
The Health Ministry's Clinical Guidelines on Vaccination For Adolescents (12 to 17 years) in Malaysia (July 2021) states: information regarding the vaccine's efficacy, safety and possible adverse reactions should be clearly explained to the adolescents and to their parents or caregivers prior to the vaccination.
Parents or caregivers will be required to sign the informed consent form on behalf of the adolescents.
The leaflet also tells those vaccinated (children or adolescents) about how to report any side-effects and adverse effects.
Are the children capable of doing this as it is well established from studies that even adults are not living up to expecta-tions?
On the issue of deaths, allegedly, the authorities require the family of anyone who dies after taking the vaccine to leave the body with the hospital for 14 days if they want a post-mortem.
Most, if not all, refuse, thus leaving deaths in adults or children related to vaccines not being investigated.
The World Health Organisation said: "More evidence is needed on the use of Covid-19 vaccines in children to be able to make general recommendations on vaccinating children against Covid-19."
Meaning, without meaningful data and evidence, children's health should not be experimented on.
To this end, it is claimed that a number of affidavits from medical experts around the world has been obtained, covering all the issues.
The judicial review application seems to be of interest to many who are looking forward to it as part of children's rights.
The writer, an NST columnist for more than 20 years, is International Islamic University Malaysia rector