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10 Jan 2022

10th Jan 2022

NOTICE PAPER NO. 844

NOTICE OF QUESTION FOR ORAL ANSWER

FOR THE SITTING OF PARLIAMENT ON 10 JANUARY 2022

 

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Dr Lim Wee Kiak

MP for Sembawang GRC

Question No. 2150

To ask the Minister for Health with the US Food and Drug Administration granting emergency authorisation to the COVID-19 vaccine by Pfizer-BioNTech for children aged 5-11 years (a) whether the Ministry will bring forward its proposed vaccination for children below 12 years of age; and (b) in the past one year, how children below 12 years of age (i) were infected (ii) have recovered and (ii) are still hospitalised, respectively.

 

NOTICE PAPER NO. 864

NOTICE OF QUESTION FOR ORAL ANSWER

FOR THE SITTING OF PARLIAMENT ON 10 JANUARY 2022

 

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Mr Yip Hon Weng

MP for Yio Chu Kang

Question No. 2172

To ask the Minister for Health (a) whether any local research is being done on possible side effects of mRNA COVID-19 vaccinations for children aged 5 to 11; (b) what are the protocols in place to manage any potential short and long-term post-vaccination side effects in children, especially that of heart inflammation; and (c) whether children are covered under the Vaccine Injury Financial Assistance Programme for COVID-19 Vaccination (VIFAP).

 

NOTICE PAPER NO. 887

NOTICE OF QUESTION FOR ORAL ANSWER

FOR THE SITTING OF PARLIAMENT ON 10 JANUARY 2022

 

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Mr Dennis Tan Lip Fong

MP for Hougang

Question No. 2250

To ask the Minister for Health (a) what are the potential risks or side effects of taking COVID-19 vaccination for persons (i) between ages 12-18 and (ii) ages below 12; (b) whether the Government will consider not mandating vaccination for these groups of persons until more is known about the possible risks or side effects of the vaccination on them; and (c) whether there are plans to offer Sinovac or Sinopharm vaccines for children.

 

NOTICE PAPER NO. 890

NOTICE OF QUESTION FOR WRITTEN ANSWER

FOR THE SITTING OF PARLIAMENT ON 10 JANUARY 2022

 

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Ms He Ting Ru

MP for Sengkang GRC

Question No. 1426

To ask the Minister for Health (a) how many children in Singapore aged 12 and above remain unvaccinated from COVID-19, broken down by (i) age group (ii) race (iii) whether citizen, permanent resident or foreigner and (iv) employment status; and (b) of those who are still unvaccinated, how many are medically ineligible for vaccination, broken down by the same categories.

 

NOTICE PAPER NO. 879

NOTICE OF QUESTION FOR ORAL ANSWER

FOR THE SITTING OF PARLIAMENT ON OR AFTER 11 JANUARY 2022

 

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Ms Hany Soh

MP for Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC

Question No. 2238

To ask the Minister for Health whether the Ministry will consider offering a mobile vaccination service, akin to school dental services, for primary schools to administer subsequent booster shots for young children and to take the opportunity to also raise the children’s awareness on the evolving COVID-19 home recovery arrangements.

 

NOTICE PAPER NO. 890

NOTICE OF QUESTION FOR ORAL ANSWER

FOR THE SITTING OF PARLIAMENT ON OR AFTER 11 JANUARY 2022

 

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Dr Wan Rizal

MP for Jalan Besar GRC

Question No. 2309

To ask the Minister for Health with regard to COVID-19 vaccination for children (a) what is the progress of the vaccination exercise; (b) what are the efforts to encourage a higher take-up rate; and (c) whether the Ministry will consider setting up children-only vaccination centres, especially for pre-school and lower primary children, that may provide a more child-friendly environment.

 

NOTICE PAPER NO. 890

NOTICE OF QUESTION FOR WRITTEN ANSWER

FOR THE SITTING OF PARLIAMENT ON OR AFTER 11 JANUARY 2022

 

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Mr Sharael Taha

MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC

Question No. 1438

To ask the Minister for Health (a) what was the outcome of the COVID-19 vaccination trials for children under 12; (b) what percentage of these children developed side effects; and (c) whether particular groups of these children are more susceptible to the side effects..

Answer

1.     Mr Speaker, with your permission, may I take PQs 13 to 15 please? Sir, my response will also be addressing questions on similar topics filed by Ms Hany Soh, Dr Wan Rizal, and Mr Sharael Taha for the 11th of January.

Roll out of vaccination for children aged 5 to 11

2.     MOH commenced COVID-19 vaccinations using the paediatric formulation of Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty vaccine on 27 December 2021, starting with older children and with a plan to progressively expand the programme to include younger children. The take-up so far has been encouraging. As of 7 January, about 123,000 children aged 5-11 have received at least one dose of the vaccine or booked their vaccination appointments.

3.     In 2021, there were 15,540 children below the age of 12 who were infected with COVID-19, of which 3,145 had ever been in a hospital or a COVID facility. Fortunately, as of 8 January 2022, none of these children remain hospitalised. Although fewer children have been seriously ill with COVID-19 compared to adults, there is still a risk of them becoming severely ill or developing severe COVID-19 complications such as Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C). Since mid-October 2021, we have observed several serious cases of COVID-19 in children, with some requiring intensive care.

4.     This is why it is important for children aged 5 to 11 to take up the COVID-19 vaccination. The Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccination for children has been assessed by HSA and EC19V to be safe. The assessment is corroborated with international data. In the United States of America where about 8.7 million doses had been administered to children as of 19 December 2021, most of the adverse events reported were not serious and no safety concerns have been raised. 2.4% of the children experienced serious adverse events such as fever, vomiting, myocarditis and seizures. The incidence of myocarditis, which is what many parents are most concerned about, is about one in a million doses. The children reported with myocarditis following vaccination had either recovered or were recovering at the time of the report. Vaccination will allow our children to be protected against the disease and reduce the likelihood of infecting others, including vulnerable or elderly family members. On the other hand, the incidence of myocarditis amongst individuals aged 12-17 infected with COVID-19, is about 45 per hundred thousand infections.

5.     To facilitate the vaccination of younger children, 15 designated paediatric vaccination centres (VCs) located island-wide are being progressively stood up. All 15 VCs will be manned by medical personnel trained in paediatric care and staff experienced in administering vaccinations for children.

6.     To provide greater convenience for parents or guardians with more than one child or ward, from 10 January 2022 all accompanying siblings of a child with an appointment from Mondays to Thursdays can walk in for their vaccination without a prior appointment. MOH has also worked closely with MOE and the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) to organise webinars with parents to address common concerns on the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccination.

7.     Currently, there are no recommendations for children to receive booster shots. If introduced, MOH will continue to ensure that families with children are able to access vaccination services in a convenient manner.

Side effects and alternative vaccine choices

8.     As of 7 January 2022, MOH has not received any report of serious adverse events or myocarditis from vaccination in children in Singapore since the roll-out of the national vaccination programme to children aged 5 to 11. We will continue to monitor this very closely.

9.     We assure parents and everyone that all our designated paediatric VCs are equipped with paediatric monitoring and resuscitation equipment, and the medical personnel are trained to manage any on-site emergencies arising from allergic reactions. Most of the side effects experienced by children after vaccination have been very mild, such as injection site pain, fatigue and fever, and would typically resolve in a few days. Members have asked if children are covered by VIFAP, and the answer is yes, as long as they are Singapore citizens, permanent residents, or long-term pass holders.

10.     At present, only the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine is authorised for use in children aged below 18 years. Special exemptions are made for those aged 12-17 years who are not medically eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine to receive the Sinovac-CoronaVac vaccine under a dedicated public health programme. MOH will work with the EC19V to review if the dedicated public health programme should be extended to children aged 5 to 11 who are medically ineligible to complete the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine based on further studies on the safety and effectiveness of the Sinovac-CoronaVac vaccine.

Breakdown of unvaccinated children aged above 12

11.     Amongst those aged 12 to 19, less than 4% remain unvaccinated. As of 6 January 2022, there are 14,097 individuals between the ages of 12-19 who are unvaccinated, of which only 14 individuals are medically ineligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine.

Conclusion

12.     COVID-19 vaccination is an important national effort in our fight against the pandemic. Vaccination for children aged 5 to 11 will help to protect more members of our society from the risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19 infections, and further minimise the risk of community spread. We strongly encourage all parents and guardians to allow their children, who are medically eligible, to please take up the vaccine when offered to them.