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Singapore ‘hopeful’ of extending COVID-19 vaccines to children below 12 from January

Children below the age of 12 made up about 11.2% of all COVID-19 cases in Singapore on Nov 19, up from 6.7% four weeks ago.

Singapore ‘hopeful’ of extending COVID-19 vaccines to children below 12 from January

Students at Holy Innocents' Primary School. (Photo: Facebook/Chan Chun Sing)

SINGAPORE: Singapore hopes to extend the COVID-19 national vaccination programme to children below the age of 12 in January 2022, said the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) director of medical services Kenneth Mak. 

Speaking at a multi-ministry task force press conference on Saturday (Nov 20), Assoc Prof Mak noted that children below the age of 12 made up about 11.2 per cent of all COVID-19 cases in Singapore on Nov 19. 

Four weeks ago, this figure was 6.7 per cent, he added, noting that Singapore is seeing a rising “slow trend” for cases in this age group. 

The proportion of cases of those between 12 and 20 years old has not changed “in the same way”, he said, adding that it “continues to hover” between 4 and 5 per cent, noted Assoc Prof Mak. 

“These children remain vulnerable because they are not yet eligible for vaccination to protect them from infection. And it’s generally harder to get them to comply with disciplined mask-wearing and safe separation and measures.”  

Many of these children have “mild infections”, but Singapore has seen a “small number” of children who need paediatric ICU care for more severe infections or complications from the infection. 

There were also a few cases of multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) reported to MOH, said Assoc Prof Mak, noting that this was addressed earlier. 

At the time, four such cases had emerged among the more than 8,000 paediatric COVID-19 cases in Singapore since the start of the pandemic. 

All four children were admitted to hospital between October and November this year, and these cases are “considered rare”, MOH said at the time. 

Health authorities are working with the expert committee on COVID-19 vaccines to extend the national vaccination programme to cover children aged between five and 11 to reduce their risk of getting infected, said Assoc Prof Mak. 

The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) will also work with Pfizer on the necessary regulatory approvals, he added. 

“We remain hopeful that we may be able to launch the extended national vaccination programme following these approvals for children less than 12 years of age, hopefully sometime in January 2022.”

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Source: CNA/hw(db)

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