SINGAPORE - Covid-19 vaccines for children aged five to 11 should hopefully be available from January, said Singapore's director of medical services Kenneth Mak on Saturday (Nov 20).
"We will continue to work with our Expert Committee on Covid-19 Vaccination on extending the national programme to cover children between five and 11 to reduce their risk of getting infected and getting bad outcomes," he added.
Associate Professor Mak said the Health Sciences Authority will work with Pfizer for regulatory approvals needed for its paediatric vaccines.
Speaking at a press conference held by the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19, he noted that there has been a trend of children below the age of 12 getting infected. They accounted for 11.2 per cent of all cases on Friday.
Comparatively, infections among children made up only 6.7 per cent of all cases four weeks ago, he said.
"These children remain vulnerable because they are not yet eligible for vaccination to protect them from infection and it's generally harder to get them to comply with mask-wearing and safe management measures."
Prof Mak reiterated that, while many of these were mild infections, a small number of children require care in the paediatric intensive care unit for either more severe infections or complications arising from infections.
The KK Women's and Children's Hospital has started a study to determine how best to operationalise the inoculation of children, as well as on the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.
A total of 150 children have been recruited and the study may soon begin, the hospital said.
Prof Mak added that the Ministry of Health will continue to observe the experiences of other countries that have begun vaccinations for children under 12 to better understand the safety profile of the paediatric formulation.
In the United States, more than 2.6 million children below 12 have received their first dose, he said.
"So we will soon have robust real world data on the safety profile of the vaccine in children, which will provide us with greater confidence that vaccines are safe for children under 12 in protecting them against Covid-19 infection."
Prof Mak noted that the proportion of cases among those aged between 12 and 20 has not changed, and continues to hover between 4 per cent and 5 per cent of all cases.
"In this school-going age group, the measures that have been taken in our schools to limit transmission in the school setting have so far proven effective in controlling spread," he said.