SINGAPORE - The side effects that adolescents may experience after receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against Covid-19 are similar to those experienced by adults and should generally resolve after a few days, experts have said.
These side effects include pain and redness over the injection site, muscle aches, fatigue and fever.
According to a recent United States clinical trial in which 1,131 children aged between 12 and 15 received the Pfizer vaccine, the side effects settled within one to three days, said Associate Professor Hsu Li Yang, vice-dean of global health at the National University of Singapore's Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health.
This is similar to what adults experience as well.
"The safety profile was excellent, and there was only one child with a severe enough reaction that the second dose was not administered," said Prof Hsu, commenting on the results of the clinical trial. That child had a fever of more than 40 deg C.
These comments come after a nationwide vaccination exercise for more than 400,000 students kicked off on Thursday (June 3), following more cases of schoolchildren getting infected in the recent Covid-19 outbreak.
The Health Sciences Authority on May 18 extended its authorisation for those in the 12 to 15 age group to receive the Pfizer vaccine. It was previously approved here only for those aged 16 and older.
While those aged 18 to 55 in Pfizer's trials reported experiencing side effects such as fever and fatigue more frequently than those aged 56 and above, those younger than 18 are unlikely to experience more side effects than those in the 18 to 55 age group, added Dr Leong Hoe Nam, an infectious diseases specialist at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital.
Singapore’s director of medical services Kenneth Mak also said earlier this week that children generally have a stronger immune system compared with adults, and they may experience a slightly higher incidence of minor effects such as fever, compared with adults.
This is common for children for all types of vaccine they receive, he added.
Over the next two weeks, invitations to book slots for vaccine appointments will be progressively extended to other full-time students, including those in special education schools.
Dr Leong said that it was safe for adolescents with special needs like autism to be vaccinated.
Currently, the US, Canada and the European Union's drug watchdog have already authorised Pfizer for adolescents.
More than 600,000 12- to 15-year-olds in the US have received the shot.