Good news, parents! Singapore has approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for kids aged between 12 and 15 years. This green signal comes as a huge relief to parents, especially at a time when more and more children are contracting the dangerous new coronavirus variant.
Health Minister Ong Ye Kung confirmed the news, while addressing a virtual press conference on Tuesday (18 May).
“Health Sciences Authority (HSA) has extended its authorisation for those in the age group to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine,” he said, as reported by The Straits Times.
Covid Vaccines For Kids In Singapore: Here’s Everything You Need To Know
As physical schools shut, Singapore announced that it has approved COVID vaccination for kids aged 12-15 years. Image courtesy: Pexel
Addressing the doubts regarding the safety of the vaccine, Mr Ong said, “Both teams (expert committee and HSA) have assessed that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine demonstrated high efficacy and safety for this age group.”
According to the report, the authorities have not yet decided whether to prioritise vaccinations for children. This decision is expected to be made at a later date.
Talking about this new decision, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said, “Both MOH and MOE will be now looking at vaccination as a next step under the education track for school-going children, and we will update in due course.”
Before this announcement, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was approved here only for those aged 16 years and above.
The HSA will further evaluate the Moderna vaccine for use in this demography. As of Tuesday, the Moderna vaccine is still approved only for those aged 18 and up, here.
Why Singapore wants to vaccinate its children
The reason why the health authorities were actively pushing for vaccination of the kids is because more children have been infected with COVID in 2021, as compared to infections in 2020.
Also, as Associate Professor Mak mentioned children are less vigilant and disciplined when following safety measures. Vaccination could, therefore, protect not just the children but also the adults around them.
Home-based Learning Measures To Protect Children
Amid the surge in unlinked cases, Singapore announced schools to be shifted online. Image courtesy: Minister Chan’s Facebook page
As you may know, Singapore (on Sunday, 16 May) announced that all primary, secondary and junior colleges will shift to full home-based learning from May 19 until the end of the school term on May 28.
During the HBL phase in Singapore, schools will ensure that learning continues uninterrupted for their students. MOE further informed that all centre-based tuition and enrichment classes are to shift activities online or will have to suspend them.
The leaders had expressed concern regarding the B1617 strain-commonly known as the Indian variant that “it was much more virulent, and they seem to attack the younger children.”
Experts had earlier said that vaccination of kids is necessary for Singapore to achieve herd immunity against coronavirus.
Vaccination Status In Singapore: Second Dose Delayed By 6-8 weeks
While more details regarding the rollout of the Covid vaccines for kids in Singapore will be provided soon. Here are few other changes in the city state’s inoculation drive.
Health Minister Ong Ye Kung announced that from Wednesday (May 19), those who register for Covid-19 vaccination will have their second dose scheduled six to eight weeks after the first, instead of three to four weeks later.
In line with this change, nationwide vaccination roll-out will be expanded to those aged 40 to 44 years from Wednesday. This change in strategy was undertaken to ensure that over 400,000 more individuals in Singapore are given at least one vaccine dose by July end.
Those who have already taken their vaccination shots for the second jab won’t be affected.
Mr Ong further clarified that those who wish to voluntarily push back their second shot, can do so He, however, stressed that the second jab will still be needed for maximum protection.
Even after you have got your jabs, it is still important to maintain precaution. Wear your masks and avoid crowds. Stay indoors as much as possible!