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Singapore to roll out vaccine booster jabs for kids

The health ministry says it has accepted the recommendation by the expert committee to sustain protection against severe illness and prepare for the next wave of infections.

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Singapore is preparing to start boosting children aged five to 11 with the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty vaccine in the fourth quarter of the year, the health ministry said today.

The ministry said it had accepted the recommendations by the expert committee on Covid-19 vaccination (EC19V) in full.

The EC19V recommended that children of that age receive one booster dose of vaccine, from five months after the second dose of their primary vaccination series, to sustain protection against severe illness.

"This will also strengthen our preparation for the next infection wave," it said in a statement today.

It added that the Health Sciences Authority has just extended the authorisation of Moderna’s Spikevax Covid-19 vaccine via the pandemic special access route to children, including very young children aged six months up to five years old.

"A decision on the recommendation for vaccination of this age group is expected soon. If approved, we will time it together with the booster exercise for children aged five to 11," it said.

In a separate statement, the EC19V said children aged five to 11 were advised to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty vaccine as it provides stronger protection against hospitalisation and severe disease from Covid-19.

"There is now local and international data indicating that antibody levels and vaccine protection against Covid-19 hospitalisation decline with time in this age group, just as it does with adolescents and adults," it said.

In this age group, the health ministry said the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty booster vaccine had been shown to increase antibody levels to more than twice the levels achieved after two primary doses, which helps sustain the level of protection against severe disease.

"Common side effects in children who received the booster dose were generally mild, similar to those from the first two doses," it said.

As of August, the ministry said more than 1,000,000 booster doses had been safely administered to children aged five to 11 in the US under the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The EC19V said it had assessed that booster vaccination is beneficial for protection against severe Covid-19 in children aged five to 11.

"While children of this age group are at low risk of severe Covid-19 disease, some children have required hospitalisation, and developed life-threatening disease requiring intensive care treatment or severe complications such as multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C)," it said.