Vaccination helps protect against COVID-19 and no safety issues have surfaced after millions of children aged 5 to 11 around the world have been vaccinated, said Singapore’s Senior Minister of State (Ministry of Health), Dr. Janil Puthucheary.
At a virtual press conference held on Dec. 14 by Singapore’s Multi-Ministry Taskforce, the committee managing the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Puthucheary said severe COVID-19 symptoms were rare for children, but they still risked hospitalization, oxygen supplementation, and ICU admission if they did get them.
“We’re seeing about one or two cases of multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children,” he said. “About one to two cases every week since mid-October 2021.
“And some of these children have required ICU care.”
Puthucheary said a study of children aged 5 to 11 in the United States for the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty vaccine demonstrated a vaccine efficacy against symptomatic infection of 90.7 percent.
Pediatric dosage for children aged 5 to 11 is 10 micrograms, one-third the dosage used for older individuals.
‘No Safety Concerns’ After Vaccination
U.S. trials of the vaccine also compared the side effects of children aged 5 to 11 against youths aged 16 to 25, and found the former group had “fewer systemic effects.”
Puthucheary noted there were no cases of anaphylaxis, and no cases of myocarditis and pericarditis observed in the U.S. vaccine trial.
As of Dec. 12, Puthucheary said millions of children around the world have been vaccinated using the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty vaccine.
“Up to 5.5 million children in the U.S. in this age group have received the first dose,” Puthucheary said. “And 2.6 million have completed two doses as of the 12 Dec, with no safety concerns.”
Unvaccinated Children Put Others at Risk
In his speech, Puthucheary said, “Our children, as you know, will spend a lot of their time in school and pre-school, and here transmission [of disease] can spread quickly.”
Unvaccinated children thus pose a risk to their younger siblings or to older adults like their grandparents, even if they happen to be vaccinated, he said.
School activities start on Jan. 4, 2022.
To protect school-going children, Puthucheary said Singapore planned to start vaccination for children before the end of the year once the vaccines are delivered.
In a Facebook post, Minister of Education Chan Chun Sing said more than 300,000 children would be offered the vaccine.
“If the delivery arrives as scheduled,” Chan said, “we will progressively open up the booking of vaccination appointments next week, and the vaccination exercise will start from the end-Dec 2021 for the older children in Primary 3–5 [children aged 9 to 11], and the younger ones thereafter in early 2022.”
As for children who remain unvaccinated by choice, there are currently no plans to introduce Vaccination-Differentiated (VDS) Safe Management Measures (pdf) for them, according to the Ministry of Health (MOH) in its press release.
“The focus now is to ensure our children are well protected by vaccination.”
According to MOH’s statistics, as of Dec. 16, there have been zero deaths in the 0–12 age group, and 0.014 percent of cases in this age group have been critically ill or in ICU.
In a detailed breakdown of the data, as of Dec. 16, four in the 0–11 age group are hospitalized, and none are critically ill and intubated in ICU.