International COVID 19 MOH: 'No plans yet' to require vaccination-differentiated safe measures for kids 12...

MOH: ‘No plans yet’ to require vaccination-differentiated safe measures for kids 12 & younger

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“I know everyone is interested to know the policy treatment. We are working through all this with MOE (Ministry of Education), so don't jump to conclusions too soon.” — Ong Ye Kung

Singapore — Children who are 12 years old and younger won’t be subject to vaccination-differentiated safe management (VDS) measures.

The Health Ministry said on Tuesday (Dec 14) that there are currently no plans to introduce VDS measures for this age group. In a press release, the ministry said “The focus now is to ensure our children are well protected by vaccination”.

Meanwhile, MOH highlighted that it would be changing the current VDS measures, extending it to more venues.

Vaccination bookings for children between five and 11 years old are due to start next week, if supplies arrive as scheduled, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said on Tuesday (Dec14)

Expansion of VDS measures

Such measures are due to be extended to more settings and activities, including all libraries under the National Library Board and selected activities in community clubs and community centres run by the People’s Association.

Starting Feb 1, 2022, VDS measures will cover all indoor sports facilities and institutes of higher learning. These measures will also apply to leisure guests in hotels, hostels and serviced apartments.

But students who are completing their full-time NITEC/Higher NITEC, diploma or degree programmes in institutes of higher learning would be exempt from the VDS measures requirement when entering their respective educational institutions.

Beginning Feb 1, 2022, all events, irrespective of event size, must also implement VDS measures in order to proceed. Currently, only events with over 50 people attending are required to follow VDS measures.

“However, even smaller-sized events can spark transmission that can spread to wider groups of people, especially in view of the Omicron variant,” said MOH.

The existing concession allowing unvaccinated individuals to perform a pre-event test (PET) in lieu of being fully vaccinated will end on Jan 1, 2022.

But children who are 12 or younger are still exempt from VDS requirements when included in a group of up to five individuals allowed to dine in at food and beverage establishments or in social gatherings and household visits, among other settings.

“If there is more than one child aged 12 years and below in the group of five persons, all children must be from the same household. An individual aged more than 12 years may sit together with a child from a different household,”  MOH in a press release on Nov 22.

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said at a press conference on Tuesday that more details would be made available in the “coming days” regarding VDS measures for children.

“I know everyone is interested to know the policy treatment. We are working through all this with MOE (Ministry of Education), so don’t jump to conclusions too soon,” said Mr Ong.

“Once we have chart out the whole plan, together with MOE, we will announce the arrangements and the policies.”

MOH has already approved the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty paediatric vaccine for children aged five to 11, with inoculations scheduled to begin this month. The dosage is a third of that given to adults.

According to MOH, the results of the phase 3 clinical trial of the vaccine for this age group has shown around a 90 per cent reduction in the risk of symptomatic infection.

Common side effects in children who received the vaccine were generally mild to moderate, with fewer systemic side effects than for those in the 16-25 age group, said MOH. /TISG

Read related: NUS begins recruiting children aged 5-16 to study immune response to COVID-19 vaccines

NUS begins recruiting children aged 5-16 to study immune response to COVID-19 vaccines

 

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