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Vaccination for Kids – What Should Parents Take Note of?

The vaccination program for kids under 12 has yet to be approved and rolled out in Singapore. There is some light in the tunnel – the Pfizer/Biontech company has recently submitted data to the US’s Food and Drug Administration. The data involved a clinical trial of its Covid-19 vaccine for children between ages 5 and 11. Once approved in the US, Singapore’s Health Sciences Authority (HSA) could have scope for its approval for local use.

Why is it taking so long for a Covid-19 vaccine to be approved for my child?
There are many logistical steps needed in approving vaccines for young children. Enrolling them in a clinical trial requires parents’ consent. Many parents would be wary in the first place of enrolling their children, and understandably so. Some children also recoil at needles. Such reluctance thus contributes to the slow intake of participants, lengthening the period for kickstarting the trials. During the trials themselves, it is difficult to ascertain the side-effects as children can’t always verbalise their symptoms.

What are the differences between an adult vaccine and a children’s vaccine?
In the trials, the vaccine given varies in fractions of the adult dose, from one-third to one-tenth. For children 5 to 11 years old, the dosage is one third of the adult dose. For children younger than 5 years old, it is one-tenth. The recent data sent by Pfizer/Biontech showed that two rounds of the one-third dosage achieved the same antibody count as two full-sized doses in 16- to 25-year-olds.

What about the side effects of the vaccine?
The Pfizer/Biontech trials found that children aged 12 to 15 experienced similar side effects as those aged 16 to 25 years old.  Such reactions include fever, fatigue, headache of which go away in a matter of days.

So, what now?
In Singapore, children becoming infected from Covid-19 has affected many schools and Maths and English tuition centres. What is reassuring is that none of them have developed severe illnesses requiring oxygen supplementation or intensive care. With the recent spate of cases, let’s keep our children safe by minimising going out, eating healthily, and exercising at home!

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