Parents welcome Covid-19 vaccination exercise for kids aged 5 to 11, but possible side effects a concern

Children from five to 11 years old will be able to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty vaccine from the end of the month. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - When her five-year-old daughter tested positive for Covid-19 last month, Ms Paige Lee was baffled as to how the girl had contracted the virus.

Kimi, an only child, developed a fever and cough on Nov 15, and was confirmed to have Covid-19 two days later. Thankfully, she recovered after self-isolating at home, testing negative on Nov 26.

"My husband and I were worried that her condition would worsen as she was unvaccinated," recalled Ms Lee, 33, a strategic partnerships manager.

"I would have been less troubled if Kimi was vaccinated against the virus then."

Parents like Ms Lee and her husband, who want their children to get vaccinated, were glad when the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a statement on Friday (Dec 10) that children from five to 11 years old will be able to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty vaccine from the end of the month.

Vaccination for this group will begin once new batches of the vaccine are received.

This is the first Covid-19 vaccine approved by Singapore for use for children in this age group, following a recommendation by the expert committee on Covid-19 vaccination, which the multi-ministry task force handling the pandemic accepted.

The committee said the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks posed to the children, especially given the ongoing community transmission and emergence of the Omicron variant.

While welcoming the news, Ms Siti Hawa Mohd Najib, a 40-year-old bank teller, had concerns over possible side effects.

The mother of four girls aged three months, 10, 12 and 15, has only just emerged from an ordeal in which two of her children, herself and her husband tested positive for Covid-19.

Only her 10- and 15-year-old daughters were not infected.

The Straits Times had reported how her baby had projectile vomited the day before testing positive for the virus in late September.

"This will help protect our kids, but we are concerned about the side effects, as even adults do get fevers and body aches," she said.

While she and her husband will find out more, Ms Siti Hawa wants her 10-year-old daughter to get vaccinated.

MOH said the children will be given smaller doses - one-third of that used for those 12 and above. The jabs will be spaced at least 21 days apart.

It will work with the Ministry of Education and Early Childhood Development Agency to roll out vaccinations for the school-going age group.

Mr Guy Chiam, a 53-year-old salesman, is unsure if he would send his son for the jab.

"I have my doubts," he said.

"There is no conclusive data to show the vaccine's success, and it might have long-term side effects on my child."

Madam Cyra Chan, a 43-year-old business owner, said she will register her youngest daughter for vaccination as soon as the exercise is open.

Madam Chan, whose daughter is 10, said: "I feel the benefits outweigh the risks, and since the vaccination is approved for this age group, it should be safe.

"I believe in science. I have taken my booster shot, and my other kids are vaccinated, so I think it will protect her too."

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