Covid-19 booster shots to be offered to children aged five to 11 in Singapore

MOH will offer booster jabs to children aged five to 11 years in the fourth quarter of the year. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Booster jabs will be offered to children aged five to 11 years old by the fourth quarter of 2022, as the nation braces itself for a possible Covid-19 wave at the year end.

At the same time, vaccination recommendations for children aged between six months and five years old are expected soon. This follows authorisation of the Moderna Spikevax Covid-19 vaccine for this age group by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA), said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Wednesday (Aug 24).

The Expert Committee on Covid-19 Vaccination recommends a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty vaccine for children aged five to 11, at least five months after the second dose of their primary vaccination series.

MOH is preparing to start boosting children aged five to 11 years in the fourth quarter of the year, likely when examinations in primary schools are towards the tail end or over.

The Government will be setting up five dedicated vaccination centres across the island to administer booster doses for these children, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung at a press conference by the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19 on Wednesday.

More details will be announced later.

The Health Ministry is giving very early notice on the availability of vaccines in the light of possible parental concerns, he said.

According to a study involving 6,000 children, there were zero cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) following vaccination, and the incidence of severe adverse reactions has been very low, said Mr Ong.

He noted that while young children are generally at lower risk of severe illness when infected with Covid-19, there have been several children below the age of five years who fell severely ill after being infected.

Two young children have died due to Covid-19 in recent months.

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If the Moderna vaccine is approved for those aged six months to five years old, it will be timed together with the children's booster exercise, and rolled out at the same centres for the convenience of parents, said Mr Ong.

"If all goes well, shipment of this vaccine will reach us in the fourth quarter of this year," he said. This is a two-dose regime administered 28 days apart.

HSA said in a separate statement on Wednesday that Moderna’s Spikevax vaccine has been approved for children from six months to 17 years old. 

Those aged six months to five years old will receive a course of two 25 microgram doses, while those aged six to 11 years old will be administered a course of two 50 microgram doses, and those aged 12 to 17 years old will receive a course of two 100 microgram doses. 

HSA noted that in the clinical study involving 6,000 children, results in those aged six months to five years old have shown that the vaccine was 37 per cent to 50 per cent effective in preventing Covid-19.

“Data in adults have continued to show that the vaccine confers high protection of 80 per cent against severe disease. Hence, it is reasonably expected that the vaccine would similarly protect children from severe outcomes of Covid-19 such as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children and other potential complications,” it added.

Mr Ong said MOH is also considering the Pfizer vaccine for infants and young children. This is a three-dose vaccine.

The second dose would be given 21 days after the first, and the third and final dose eight weeks after the second one.

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