Coronavirus: Singapore

Vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 may be available from January

HSA to work with Pfizer for approvals; rising proportion of infections among kids under 12

A Covid-19 vaccine for children aged five to 11 may be available from January, said Singapore's director of medical services Kenneth Mak yesterday.

"We remain hopeful that we may be able to launch the expanded national vaccination programme following these approvals for children less than 12 years of age, hopefully some time in January 2022 onwards," he said.

He added that work is ongoing with the Expert Committee on Covid-19 Vaccination on extending the national programme to these children to reduce their risk of getting infected and getting bad outcomes.

Associate Professor Mak said the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) will work with Pfizer for regulatory approvals needed for its paediatric Covid-19 vaccine.

Speaking at a multi-ministry task force press conference, he noted that there has been a trend of children below 12 getting infected.

They accounted for 11.2 per cent of all cases on Friday.

In comparison, infections among children made up only 6.7 per cent of all cases four weeks ago, he noted.

These children remain vulnerable because they are not yet eligible for vaccination to protect them from infection and it is generally harder to get them to comply with mask-wearing and safe management measures, he added.

Prof Mak reiterated that, while many of these were mild infections, a small number of children require care in the paediatric intensive care unit for either more severe infections or complications arising from infections.

The multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), which can affect various organs including the brain and kidneys, has been observed in children who have seemingly recovered from Covid-19 without incident.

There have been six cases of MIS-C linked to Covid-19 infections as at Nov 15.

  • 150 Number of children in Singapore who have been recruited for a study to determine how best to operationalise the inoculation of children, and the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.

    11.2% Percentage of children under 12 among infected cases on Friday. In comparison, infections among children made up 6.7 per cent of all cases four weeks ago.

    6 Number of children in Singapore who developed multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) after being infected with Covid-19.

The KK Women's and Children's Hospital has started a study to determine how best to operationalise the inoculation of children, as well as on the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. A total of 150 children have been recruited and the study may soon begin, the hospital said.

Prof Mak said the Ministry of Health will continue to observe the experiences of other countries that have begun vaccinations for children under 12 to better understand the safety profile of the paediatric formulation.

In the United States, more than 2.6 million children below 12 have received their first dose, he said.

"So we will soon have robust real-world data on the safety profile of the vaccine in children, which will provide us with greater confidence that vaccines are safe for children under 12 in protecting them against Covid-19 infection," he added.

Prof Mak noted that the proportion of cases among those aged between 12 and 20 has not changed, and continues to hover between 4 per cent and 5 per cent of all cases.

"In this school-going age group, the measures that have been taken in our schools to limit transmission in the school setting have so far proven effective in controlling spread," he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 21, 2021, with the headline 'Vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 may be available from January'. Subscribe