More data needed before kids in Singapore get Covid-19 vaccine

The bigger picture also needs to be considered when weighing the risks and benefits of vaccinating children, said experts.
The bigger picture also needs to be considered when weighing the risks and benefits of vaccinating children, said experts.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - More large-scale data is needed before any conclusion can be made on whether Singapore should vaccinate children.

Though such trials for mRNA vaccines Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech have already commenced, results have yet to be published.

Concerns are that since young adults do experience some transient, but at times debilitating side effects from the vaccines, children could fare even worse.

But it does not mean that if young adults and late teens have adverse side effects, children will have them as well, said Professor Ooi Eng Eong from the Duke-NUS Medical School's Programme in Emerging Infectious Diseases at a webinar on living with Covid-19 on Thursday (Sept 16).

"The vaccines could, in fact, turn out to be very safe for children," he added.

The bigger picture also needs to be considered when weighing the risks and benefits of vaccinating children, said the panel of three experts at the session organised by The Straits Times.

For instance, grandparents and grandchildren may share a very special relationship and so vaccinating grandchildren would protect the grandparents.

Singapore will also have to look towards the experiences of other countries, such as the United States, to decide if it is a safe and wise choice to inoculate children here.

For instance, rare side effects, such as myocarditis in the case of mRNA vaccines or thrombocytopenia (bleeding in the brain) for AstraZeneca vaccines, were not picked up during clinical trials of tens of thousands of subjects.

It was only after millions were vaccinated did these side effects start to show up, said Associate Professor Hsu Li Yang, an infectious diseases expert at the National University of Singapore's Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, at the webinar.