SINGAPORE - When project accountant Lina Ong received a mobile phone text message saying her 11-year-old son was eligible for a Covid-19 jab, she immediately got him registered.
Madam Ong, 47, arrived at the Pasir Ris Elias Community Club vaccination centre at about 7.40am on Monday (Dec 27), just before it opened at 8am.
Her early booking - as soon as she got the SMS last Wednesday - allowed her to secure one of the first slots available on the first day of paediatric vaccinations for Primary 4 to Primary 6 pupils.
Her son Keagan Ho, a Temasek Primary School pupil, said his jab was not a bad experience and that there was only a brief moment of pain. He was given a sticker after the vaccination.
Madam Ong had also taken along her eight-year-old son, and all three left the centre at about 8.40am.
She said: "The whole process was very smooth and well organised. I wanted him to be among the first so that he could go back home and rest."
She added that she hoped to get her other son vaccinated soon, so that they would have peace of mind should they travel overseas as a family.
More than 40 per cent of Primary 4 to Primary 6 pupils have registered for their Covid-19 vaccination.
About 110,000 SMS invitations to get the jab were sent last Wednesday to parents of children in the age group.
Seven paediatric vaccination centres opened on Monday, with another eight set to start operations in January next year.
The centres now operating are Senja-Cashew Community Club, Nanyang Community Club in Boon Lay, Our Tampines Hub, Pasir Ris Elias Community Club, Woodlands Galaxy Community Club, Nee Soon East Community Club and Hougang Community Club.
At Senja-Cashew Community Club, Ms Pavithra Kailasan, 47, was first in line with her daughter, Anuja Kailasan, 11.
Speaking to The Straits Times after her daughter took the jab, Ms Pavithra said: “She was panicking last night because her older sister told her the injection needle was very long. But the nurses were very friendly and caring, and explained the process to her patiently.”
Ms Pavithra, a system administrator, said she had been infected with Covid-19 in October, and had a fever, cough and body pain.
“I was fully vaccinated, but I had not taken my booster. If I was not vaccinated, the severity (of my symptoms) would have been even worse,” she added. “I wanted my daughter to be protected as well.”
Anuja, who is a South View Primary School pupil, said she now feels more confident about her second jab.
Mr Sahrin Soride, 42, was waiting by the exit for his 11-year-old son and wife, who had accompanied the boy in.
“It’s better to take on the first day because he starts school next week. So if he feels any side effects, he has time to rest,” the immigration officer said.
“He was a bit nervous at first, but we told him why he was getting this jab and that it’s to protect him from the virus.”
The Pasir Ris Elias Community Club and Senja-Cashew Community Club vaccination centres each had 484 children registered to have their vaccinations on Monday.
ST understands that each centre has a cap of 484 slots for Monday and Tuesday, with more slots expected to be made available in the coming days.
The Ministry of Education said there were a total of 3,300 slots across the seven paediatric vaccination centres for Monday, and that all the slots were fully taken up.
“The first-day vaccination operations have proceeded smoothly,” it said.
“We strongly encourage parents/guardians to register their child/ward for vaccination when they receive the invitation, if they are medically eligible, so that families can get their desired dates for vaccination, and better protect their children against Covid-19.”
Education Minister Chan Chun Sing on Sunday encouraged parents to register for weekday slots, saying slots for Friday, Saturday and Sunday have all been taken up.
He added that medical leave will be provided for pupils on weekday slots, with schools making arrangements to help them catch up with any work they might miss.
The national vaccination programme will also be extended to children aged five and above, with registration for Primary 1 to Primary 3 pupils in Ministry of Education schools and madrasahs opening up from Jan 5 next year.
The extension of the programme will cover about 300,000 children, who make up the largest unvaccinated group in Singapore.
The paediatric dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty Covid-19 vaccine - the only brand currently approved for children aged five to 11 in Singapore - is 0.2 millilitres, compared with 0.3 millilitres for adults.
Children aged 12 and above can walk in accompanied by a parent or guardian to any of the 22 vaccination centres offering the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty vaccine without a prior appointment.