SINGAPORE — COVID-19 vaccination for children aged five to 11 will begin on Monday (27 December), as Singapore extends the national vaccination programme to cover over 300,000 children.
This age group represents by far the largest remaining unvaccinated group in the city-state. The programme will be open to all children who are Singaporeans, permanent residents and long-term pass holders.
The exercise will begin with children from Primary 4 to Primary 6, said the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) in a joint media release on Tuesday. SMS invitations with unique links to make bookings for appointments will be sent out from Wednesday.
Currently, the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine is the only vaccine approved for children aged 5 to 11 in Singapore. The Ministry of Health (MOH) said that the first shipment of the vaccine will arrive on Wednesday.
"The Phase 3 clinical trial of the vaccine has shown that the 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," MOE and ECDA said in the media release.
367 children below 12 infected
In a video released on Tuesday, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing stressed that while the risk of our children being infected can never be entirely prevented, vaccination will reduce their chances of being seriously infected.
"Many parents have been concerned about the disruption to school activities as a result of the pandemic. As more of our children get vaccinated, we'll be able to resume more activities, sports and games, which are critical to their holistic development and well-being," said Chan.
In September, Senior Minister of State for Health Janil Puthucheary told Parliament that some 367 children below the age of 12, or 0.6 per cent of all local cases, have been infected with COVID-19 so far. He added that none of them developed severe illness requiring oxygen supplementation or are in intensive care unit.
There have also been four cases of Multi-system Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) involving children to date, with a four-year-old boy warded in the Children's Intensive Care Unit (CICU) as of Saturday (6 November).
Last Tuesday, the multi-ministry task force on COVID-19 said that there are currently no plans to impose vaccination-differentiated measures on children aged 5-11.
MOE has not set a target for the number of children in this age group to be vaccinated as the exercise is not compulsory. The core curriculum for those unvaccinated in this age group will not be affected, but they may be excluded from higher-risk activities.
15 designated paediatric vaccination centres
To facilitate the vaccination of younger children, 15 designated paediatric vaccination centres (VCs) located island-wide will progressively begin operations. Seven such VCs, manned by medical personnel trained in paediatric care, kicks off operations from Monday, followed by seven more centres from 3 January.
These are located at existing VCs for adults and older children, and there will be separate queues and spaces to ensure adherence to safe management measures and correct administration of the vaccine.
An additional paediatric VC will open on 11 January within the new Yusof Ishak Secondary School campus, to provide better coverage of the Punggol/Seng Kang area. Vaccination operations will be segregated from the rest of the school, thus not affecting lessons and programmes.
Parental consent required to book vaccination appointment
Parental consent is required to book a vaccination appointment for both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine. All children aged 5 to 11 must also be accompanied by one parent/guardian at the VC for their appointment.
Parents should bring along their child/ward’s identification for verification purposes. Those who registered their interest on the NAS will also be required to sign a consent form and bring a copy for verification.
To ensure compliance with safe management measures at the VCs, only one parent is allowed to accompany their child/ward into the VC.
Registration to open progressively, starting with kids born between 2009 and 2012
The registration process for the vaccination exercise will open progressively to all eligible children broadly by age bands, starting with children born between 2009 and 2012, followed by those born between 2013 and 2017.
Children must have crossed their fifth birthday before they are eligible to book an appointment.
From Monday, the National Appointment System (NAS) will be open for parents of all children aged nine to 11 to register their interest to vaccinate their child. After registration, they will receive a unique link via SMS within three to five working days to book a vaccination appointment.
From the week of 3 January, parents of Primary 1 to 3 students in MOE primary schools will also receive texts to book a vaccination appointment. Similarly, from the week of 10 January, parents of all children aged five and above may proceed to register their interest on the NAS and receive their unique link.
Vaccination of children in SPED schools, EIPIC centres
To facilitate access for children in Special Education (SPED) schools and ECDA-funded Early Intervention Programme for Infants and Children (EIPIC) centres, MOH will deploy mobile vaccination teams to schools for all eligible SPED and EIPIC students from 12 January.
Parents/guardians may either opt for their child to receive the vaccination via these teams, or register their interest on the NAS for their child to receive the vaccination at a paediatric VC.
Parents/guardians of children with special and developmental needs who do not attend SPED schools or EIPIC centres, such as those from Private Early Intervention centres or who are home-schooled, may register their interest on the NAS when their children’s respective age bands are eligible for registration.
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