Singapore vaccinates children aged 12 to 15 as COVID-19 cases rise
Following an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in Singapore schools, local media announced on Tuesday that the city-state has agreed to vaccinate students aged 12 to 15. This statement arrives at a time when numerous schoolchildren have tested positive for the deadly virus.
According to the Health Minister of Singapore, Ong Ye Kung, those aged 12 to 15 will be vaccinated against Covid-19 with a Pfizer-BioNTech injection. Previously, only those aged 16 and up were given the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine.
The expert committee on Covid-19 vaccines backed the Health Sciences Authority's (HSA) decision, according to Ong, who co-chairs the multi-ministerial task force on Covid-19.
At a virtual press conference, Ong said, "Both teams (expert committee and HSA) have assessed that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine demonstrated high efficacy and protection for this age group."
The Ministry of Education (MOE) will collaborate with the Ministry of Health (MOH) to develop a vaccination programme for this age group, with more information coming soon.
Furthermore, this statement arrives at a time when numerous schoolchildren have tested positive for the deadly virus.
Additionally, Kenneth Mak, MOH's director of medical services, reported at the press conference that compared to 2020, this year more children have been infected with Covid-19.
When it comes to safety precautions, Mak claims that children are less cautious and disciplined. Vaccination, he said, could protect not only children but also adults around them.
However, he stated that the authorities have yet to determine whether or not to prioritise vaccines for children, and therefore this decision will be taken at a later date.
Singapore's vaccination programme, as per Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, has several tracks, including one which focuses on the educational sector - teachers, staff, and students. Teachers and students in university hostels have already been vaccinated, Wong said, a co-chairman of the task force. These students were given the shot because they live in a communal environment with a higher risk of infection.
In response to any concerns parents may have about their children's safety, Mak stated that the vaccine is not only safe for children aged 12 to 15, but it is just as beneficial for adults.
Meanwhile, due to an increase in Covid-19 incidents, all schools will begin full home-based learning (HBL) from Wednesday until the end of the school year on May 28. All primary, secondary, and junior college students, as well as Millennia Institute and special education students, are affected.
The government is also stepping up its Covid-19 vaccination campaign, beginning registration for people aged 40 to 44 and sending doctors and nurses to people's homes to assist those who are housebound or unable to get around.
Residents aged 40 to 44 will register for their Covid-19 vaccine jabs beginning Wednesday, as per the Ministry of Health. The government has given out over 3.4 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine as of May 17.
Nearly two million people have received at least one dose of the vaccine, with over 1.4 million receiving their second dose and completing their vaccination. Furthermore, the population of Singapore is estimated to be 5.9 million.