With over 1.7 billion of the global population infected by the Covid-19 virus, scientists across the world have made some great strides in bringing the vaccine in record time. In fact, vaccination development usually witnesses a period of three to four years. But with an alarming death toll, every second has been precious in saving lives.
Thankfully, the vaccination drives began earlier this year in many parts of the world including Singapore.
Beginning with senior citizens, the government is currently vaccinating individuals between the age of 40-44 years. In fact, about 40,000 people get vaccinated every day on the island, and you can rest assured that younger folks will get their first jab very soon.
However, the vaccines available at present have been developed and tested on adults so far. That’s why the minimum age for Covid vaccine was 16 years in Singapore so far. The country did open up its vaccination programme to adolescents between the age of 12 and 18 years from June 1, 2021.
Pfizer became the first company to announce a vaccine for kids between the age of 12-15 years old. Other pharma companies are working to develop vaccines for kids from six months to 11-years-old.
So, when can your little one get the vaccine and what you need to know about the age limit? Read on to know more.
How Does Covid-19 Affect Children?
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While the number of Covid cases in children globally has been less, Singapore did witness a spike in cases in April this year with the new virus strain.
The symptoms have been mild for most children but a small percentage of kids could develop a serious inflammatory condition called MIS-C in the two to six weeks following the infection.
MIS-C can happen to children who have mild or no symptoms and may need to be admitted to a hospital.
At present, the minimum age for Covid vaccine is 12 years in Singapore. It goes up to 18 years in other parts of the world. More than 400,000 students aged 12 and above will be invited to register for the COVID-19 vaccine from June 1, Minister for Education Chan Chun Sing announced on May 31, 2021.
What COVID-19 Vaccines Are Available For Children?
1. Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine
The Heathy Sciences Authority (HSA) authorised the use of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine over the age of 12 years in Singapore.
With respect to the Pfizer vaccine, it completed trials for the ages between 12-15 year old. The trial used the same vaccine dose and schedule as administered to adults – two doses given three weeks apart.
The trials found the vaccine to be safe and well-tolerated by kids. It produced anti-bodies and a 100 percent efficacy rate in preventing mild to severe infection in this age group. The HSA approved the vaccine after reviewing the study results.
2. Moderna Vaccine
Moderna vaccines have been authorised for use in people over the age of 18 years.
The Moderna vaccine trials have been completed using the same dose and schedules as determined for adults, but for ages 12-17 years. The Moderna vaccine is divided into two doses given four weeks apart. The data from the vaccine trials will be available within the next few months.
3. Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson began its vaccine trial for children between the ages of 16-17 years. The company says that it is currently awaiting results on this age group before beginning trials for 12-15-year-olds.
But it has also been authorised for use in people over the age of 18 years.
Covid-19 Vaccine For Younger Children In Singapore
With clinical trials yet to begin for children between the age of six months and 11 years, it will be a while before the vaccine rolls out.
The pharma companies plan to begin trials by testing smaller doses of the vaccine on younger children. This will allow researchers to determine the ideal dose that can be tolerated by kids while also developing antibodies safely.
Once researchers determine the ideal dose, kids within the age range will be enrolled in placebo-controlled trials to evaluate the efficacy of these vaccines.
Pharma companies have not announced a timeline for rolling out vaccines for kids globally.
But children in Singapore are likely to get their first dose by the end of 2021 or from early 2022 onwards.
Complications From The Covid-19 Vaccines In Children
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It’s unclear at the moment how the Covid-19 vaccine will affect children. The uncertainty around the efficacy of the vaccine also leaves you with unanswered questions like:
Do children need the same dose value of the vaccine as adults?
How long will the vaccine stay effective in a child’s body?
Will children need additional doses of the vaccine in the future?
Researchers suggest that the vaccine should have the same effect on children as it does on adults. The ground reality of the vaccine will be known only after it rolls out to children.
As the minimum age for Covid vaccine is lowered, it will be the next important step in achieving herd immunity. We can finally bring an end to this pandemic and resume our “new” normal lives. Till then stay safe, wear your masks and encourage your children to do the same as well.