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Singapore

COVID-19 vaccination bookings for children aged 9 to 11 in MOE schools to begin from Wednesday

SINGAPORE: More than 100,000 parents of pupils from Primary 4 to Primary 6 in Ministry of Education (MOE) schools below the age of 12 in 2022 will receive an SMS for their children's vaccination from Wednesday (Dec 22). 

MOE said during a news conference on Tuesday that they may book slots which will start on Dec 27 directly on the national appointment system, using the unique link in the SMS. This will also apply to parents of pupils in the same cohorts in madrasahs.

Parents of children born between 2009 and 2012, regardless of schooling type including those in international schools and those who are home-schooled, will be able to register their interest to vaccinate their children from Dec 27 through the national appointment system.

After registration on child.vaccine.gov.sg, parents and guardians can expect to receive a unique link via SMS within three to five working days to book a vaccination appointment, MOE and the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) said in a news release on Tuesday.

Singapore approved the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine for use in children in this age group earlier this month.

The agencies will be working with the Ministry of Health (MOH) to extend the vaccination of more than 300,000 children aged 5 to 11, they said.

“The registration process for the vaccination exercise will open progressively to all eligible children broadly by age bands, starting with children born between 2009 to 2012, followed by those born between 2013 to 2017,” MOE and ECDA said.

MOE and ECDA said on Tuesday that the Phase 3 clinical trial of the vaccine has shown that the Pfizer BioNTech/Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for children in this age group.

The Expert Committee on COVID-19 Vaccination has assessed that the “benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks”, the agencies added.

MOE said it will remind parents that children should avoid strenuous activity for two weeks after each dose. 

Currently, the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine is the only vaccine approved for children aged 5 to 11 in Singapore.

MOH said last week that there are presently no plans to introduce vaccination-differentiated safe management measures for children aged 12 years and below.

MOE said during the news conference on Tuesday that when it comes to unvaccinated children taking part in "higher risk" activities, they will have to follow the "sensible thing" in accordance with the national regime.

YOUNGER COHORTS

From the week of Jan 3 next year, parents and guardians of Primary 1 to 3 students in MOE primary schools can expect to progressively receive a unique link via SMS to book a vaccination appointment, MOE and ECDA said.

From the week of Jan 10, parents and guardians of all children aged five and above may proceed to register their interest on the national appointment system. Similarly, they can expect to receive a unique link via SMS within three to five working days to book a vaccination appointment after registration.

Children must have crossed their 5th birthday before they are eligible to book an appointment and receive the vaccination.

Students in primary levels at Madrasahs will largely follow similar arrangements as those in MOE primary schools, and an SMS invitation will also be sent to their parents and guardians.

"We encourage all to book their vaccination appointments when offered, to secure a desired vaccination appointment slot, as booking will be on a first-come-first-serve basis, and with more eligible groups being included progressively," MOE said.

While vaccination is not compulsory, MOE said it will be "very happy" to see a high take-up rate. However, it acknowledged that there will be parents who are hesitant.

"We understand that. We want to open up to those who are ready, but we continue to want to see how we can be helpful in providing more information, more data, together with MOH, to help assure parents with such concerns," MOE said.

Minister for Education Chan Chun Sing said on his Facebook page that vaccination is an "important additional tool in our suite of measures to keep our children safe".

"This will enable them to resume more activities like our older children and adults," he said, adding that 96 per cent of the eligible population aged 12 years and above have completed their full regime.

PAEDIATRIC VACCINATION CENTRES

To facilitate the vaccination of this age group, 15 designated paediatric vaccination centres located island-wide will progressively begin operations.

These centres, mostly located in community clubs in areas such as Clementi, Toa Payoh and Hougang, will be manned by medical personnel trained in paediatric care, as well as personnel trained in administering vaccination for children, MOE and ECDA said.

Many centres can accommodate 1,000 appointments each a day, MOE said, adding that whether they are able to depends on the space dedicated for the 30-minute observation period after the doses, as safe distancing measures will be in place.

Seven paediatric vaccination centres will start operations from Dec 27, followed by seven more from Jan 3 next year.

MOE has also worked with MOH to set up an additional paediatric vaccination centre within Yusof Ishak Secondary School to “provide better coverage of the Punggol/Sengkang area”, according to the news release. Operations at the secondary school will begin on Jan 11 next year.

Designated paediatric vaccination centres, apart from Yusof Ishak Secondary School, are co-located with existing vaccination centres for adults and older children, MOE and ECDA said.

"The paediatric centres will have design features and safety protocols to cater specifically to the needs of our younger children and parents," Mr Chan said. He added that more details on these additional features and protocols will be provided in the next few days. 

Consent from a parent or guardian is required to book a vaccination appointment for both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine, and all children aged 5 to 11 must be accompanied by one parent or guardian at the vaccination centre for the appointment.

They need to bring along the child’s student identification, or if not available, other forms of identification, such as birth certificate or passport, for verification purposes.

Those who registered their interest on the national appointment system will also be required to sign a consent form and bring along a hardcopy or softcopy to the vaccination centre for verification. The consent form can be found on the system.

To facilitate access for children in special education schools and ECDA-funded Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children (EIPIC) centres, MOH will deploy mobile vaccination teams to these locations for all eligible students from Jan 12.

Parents and guardians may either opt for their child to receive the vaccination via these mobile vaccination teams, or register their interest on the national appointment system for their child to receive the vaccination at a paediatric vaccination centre, MOE and ECDA said.

The special education schools and EIPIC centres will share registration instructions and guidelines with the parents and guardians of these children.

Parents and guardians of children with special and developmental needs, who do not attend such schools and centres, may register their interest on the national appointment system when their children’s respective age bands are eligible for registration.

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Source: CNA/ja(gr)

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