Covid-19 booster shots to be offered to children aged five to 11
Booster jabs will be offered to children aged five to 11 years by the fourth quarter of 2022, as the nation braces for a possible Covid-19 wave at the end of the year.
At the same time, vaccination recommendations for children aged between six months and five years are expected soon. This follows authorisation of the Moderna Spikevax Covid-19 vaccine for this age group by the Health Sciences Authority, said the Ministry of Health on Wednesday (August 24).
The Expert Committee on Covid-19 Vaccination recommends a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty vaccine for children aged five to 11, at least five months after the second dose of their primary vaccination series.
MOH is preparing to start boosting children aged 5 to 11 years in the fourth quarter of the year, likely when examinations in primary schools are towards the tail end or over.
The Government will be setting up five dedicated Vaccination Centres (VCs) across the island to administer booster doses for these children, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung at a press conference by the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19 on Wednesday (Aug 24).
More details will be announced later.
The Health Ministry is giving very early notice on the availability of vaccines in light of possible parental concerns, he said.
According to a study involving 6,000 children, there were zero cases of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) following vaccination, and the incidence of severe adverse reactions has been very very low, said Mr Ong.
He noted that while young children are generally at lower risk of severe illness when infected with Covid-19, there have been several children below the age of five years who fell severely ill after being infected.
Two young children have died due to Covid-19 in recent months.
If the Moderna vaccine is approved for those aged six months to five years, it will be timed together with the children's booster exercise, and rolled out at the same centres for the convenience of parents, said Mr Ong.
"If all goes well, shipment of this vaccine will reach us in the fourth quarter of this year," he said. This is a two dose regime administered 28 days apart.
He added that MOH is also considering the Pfizer vaccine for infants and young children. This is a three-dose vaccine.
The second dose would be given 21 days after the first and the third and final dose eight weeks after the second one.