Yelps, tears as Malaysia starts vaccinations for young children

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KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Malaysia kicked off a COVID-19 mass vaccination programme on Thursday for children aged between 5 and 11, in an effort to protect the youngest members of its population and increase its high immunisation rate.

At a vaccination centre in the capital Kuala Lumpur, young children sat anxiously with parents as occasional yelps of pain were heard echoing in the hall.

"I feel like the (there are) higher chances of me not getting COVID now and I can go dine out," said 8-year-old Sophie Lee Ming Qi after receiving the vaccine.

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The inoculation programme will add to Malaysia's success in vaccinating most of its people. Nearly 80% of the 32 million population have received at least two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, including almost 98% of adults.

About 517,000 children had registered to take the vaccine made by Pfizer (PFE.N) and BioNTech (22UAy.DE) as of Wednesday, local media reports said.

In the past six months, 147,282 children age 5-11 have been infected with COVID-19 and 26 have died.

"It's a great move," said Lee Ser Wor, a parent of children being inoculated.

"It's good for them in order for them to be protected against the COVID-19 virus and in doing so, it is also protecting the public at large."

Malaysia has recorded 2.8 million coronavirus cases and close to 32,000 deaths overall

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Editing by Martin Petty. Editing by Jane Merriman

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