SINGAPORE - More than one in 10 children aged between five and 11 have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, said Singapore's director of medical services Kenneth Mak on Wednesday (Jan 5).
Associate Professor Mak said the vaccination exercise is progressing steadily. As at Monday, 11.4 per cent of children have received the vaccine at the paediatric vaccination centres islandwide.
The vaccination exercise for children aged between five and 11 started on Dec 27. It is expected to involve more than 300,000 children in total.
Prof Mak, who was speaking during a press conference held by the Covid-19 multi-ministry task force on Wednesday, said the authorities remain confident that the paediatric formulation of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is safe for children.
This has been supported by recent data released in the United States, he added.
Citing a study by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Prof Mak said it looked into data from the 8.7 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine that have been administered to children in the US as at Dec 19, 2021.
There was a low serious adverse event rate. Side effects included local injection site pain, fever, headaches, fatigue, vomiting, rashes, seizures and allergic reactions, said Prof Mak.
He said there were only 11 cases of myocarditis - heart inflammation - despite 8.7 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine administered. This corresponds to a post-vaccination myocarditis rate of about 1.3 cases per 1 million people, which is "far lower" than the rate seen in the older population.
Prof Mak added: "So the dose reductions and the use of the paediatric formulations have preserved the efficacy of the vaccine and not compromised on the safety of vaccination."
He also said the risk of getting myocarditis or pericarditis - inflammation of the outer lining of the heart - due to a Covid-19 infection has been reported to be as high as 45 cases per 100,000 young people aged between 12 and 17.
"So clearly, the risk of myocarditis from vaccination is far lower than the risk of getting that same complication from infection," he said.
Prof Mak added that Singapore has been fortunate so far as not many children here have been infected with the coronavirus. But in the US and Britain, there has been a surge in the number of people being infected, in part due to the children there not being vaccinated against Covid-19 yet.
"With the coming Omicron wave, we expect to see more children being infected," he said, referring to the Covid-19 variant.
"Rather than deal with the pain of seeing your loved one, your loved child being infected, I urge all parents to accept the invitation to register your child for vaccination at any of our vaccination centres that cater for childhood Covid-19 vaccinations."
Correction note: An earlier version of the story said there was a post-vaccination myocarditis rate of about 1.3 cases per 100,000 people, according to Prof Mak. MOH has clarified that it should be a rate of about 1.3 cases per 1 million people.