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Singapore targets COVID-19 vaccination for young children 6 months and above towards 4th quarter

The Ministry of Health said it is currently doing the necessary preparations to roll out COVID-19 vaccines for children aged between six months and four years old.

Singapore targets COVID-19 vaccination for young children 6 months and above towards 4th quarter

A little girl holds on to her plushie while getting a vaccine shot on Dec 27, 2021. (Photo: CNA/Hanidah Amin)

SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Monday (Jul 25) it aims to have COVID-19 vaccines ready for children aged between six months and four years old towards the fourth quarter of the year.

In a statement in response to media queries about the recent deaths of two children due to COVID-19, MOH said it is currently doing the necessary preparations to roll out the vaccines.

MOH, the Health Sciences Authority and the Expert Committee on COVID-19 Vaccination said on Jul 19 they are studying the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines that have been formulated for young children under the age of five.

On the issue of paediatric deaths, MOH said the pattern of COVID-19 fatalities - two deaths of children aged between 0 and 4 years old as of Jul 23, 2022 - was similar to that of other infectious diseases.

"(The two deaths) translates to three deaths per 100,000 cases in the same age group, compared to 99 deaths per 100,000 cases for the 40 and above age group this year", said MOH.

"This is not unique to COVID-19 as we see such patterns in other infectious diseases, where children 0 to four are much more resilient than older patients, but more vulnerable compared to older children and young adults." 

The ministry added: "Children 0-4 have also fallen victim to other diseases such as pneumonia and influenza. Before COVID-19, in 2018 and 2019, MOH recorded 3.1 deaths of children 0-4 years old per 100,000 person-years from pneumonia and influenza."

COVID-19 INFECTIONS

The ministry said that of the 1.7 million COVID-19 infections reported in Singapore since the start of the pandemic, 64,000 (3.9 per cent) were of children under five years old.

A large majority of the 64,000 cases recover “uneventfully” at home, with 0.022 per cent requiring oxygen supplementation or intensive care unit (ICU) care, said MOH.

In comparison, 0.17 per cent of patients in the 40 and above age group require ICU care.

MOH also said there is currently “no clear evidence” that Omicron variants cause more severe disease.

Severe cases among those aged 0 to four have been lower at 12 per 100,000 cases in 2022 compared to 41 per 100,000 cases in 2021, it added.

On Jun 27, Singapore reported its first COVID-19 death of a child under 12. A one-and-a-half-year-old Singaporean boy died from encephalitis due to COVID-19, respiratory syncytial virus and enterovirus infections. 

He had no other past medical history and was previously well, said MOH last month.

Last week, a four-year-old Singaporean girl died of the coronavirus. The cause of death was determined by the state coroner to be COVID-19 pneumonia, MOH had said.

VACCINES FOR CHILDREN

Currently, children aged five and above are eligible for the primary vaccination series. Those aged 12 and above who have completed their primary vaccination series are eligible for the first booster shot.

Singapore reported 6,175 COVID-19 cases on Sunday, of which 5,950 were locally transmitted infections.

As of Saturday, 96 per cent of Singapore's eligible population have completed their full vaccination regimen under the national vaccination programme.

A total of 1,659,156 COVID-19 cases and 1,476 deaths have been recorded since the start of the pandemic.

BOOKMARK THIS: Our comprehensive coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic and its developments

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Source: CNA/ng(ac)

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