Teens Vaccination : Right Move but too soon?


Daily Dose: Teens Vaccination - Right Move but too soon?

PM Lee made a speech on COVID-19 yesterday. Compared to the previous COVID-19 related speech, this had a more optimistic tone. While there are no many new measures introduced, there's one that had the attention of parents with teenagers.

It was announced on May 18 that the vaccine for children aged 12 to 15 was approved. Yesterday, during PM speech, vaccination booking for O, N, and A levels will begin. Thereafter it will be followed by teens age 12-18 and higher institution learning. This announcement has caught some parents by surprise, given the approval and actual vaccination speed. 

While reports on positive cases of students in schools seem to support this, if we were to dig deeper into the numbers, the conclusion may not be clear-cut. It had been pointed out that our reports on students affected with COVID-19 had given the impression that it has been spread in schools. 

I would like to use this opportunity to clearly state that other than 1 or 2 isolated cases, the majority of students with COVID-19 was infected OUTSIDE of schools. The main source of infection is either through FAMILY or PRESCHOOL/ PRIMARY TUITION/ ENRICHMENT CENTERS. Schools had done a great job in preventing any spread within the school compound. 

Thus on that note, let's break down the numbers to date.

There are about 50 schools with students and staff tested positive. Out of these 50 schools, only 5 are secondary schools. That is about 10% of the list. The majority of the schools ( more than 40) are a mix of preschools and primary schools. 

All 5 secondary schools students have links to existing cases from work or family. There are NO secondary school clusters, nor are there indications that these cases are infected through tuition centres (compared to preschools and primary schools). One possibility is that being older students, they are more disciplined in safe distancing measures such as wearing a mask properly and maintaining social distancing. 

The intentions to vaccine this group are good. First, it will protect the teenager and his/her immediate family. Secondly, it might give peace of mind to parents sending kids to school. Nonetheless, one does question the speed of the vaccination, given that most of the infections of students are preschoolers and primary students. While there is NO vaccine approved for this age group ( under 12), more can be done to protect this group and families.

With vaccine supplies limited, a more targeted approach might be needed instead of a one-size-fits-all way. Here are some considerations.

1) The age of the parents 

For teenagers, parents are usually already past 40 years old. With that being the case, most parents would already be given a chance to be vaccinated. Furthermore, the notion of risk to the extended family, such as grandparents, is mooted. While this is true for some cases, statistically, it may be a minority instead of a majority. Nonetheless, grandparents are likely to be vaccinated unless due to health reasons.  

On the other hand, the majority of parents of preschoolers and primary school students are below 40. Given their age group, they will be one of the last to be vaccinated. With primary school students more likely to be infected base on behaviour ( not wearing mask properly, lack of social distancing), there is the risk that this particular group have no protection against the current wave. It may also be the reason why the majority of students are from preschools / primary schools instead of secondary schools. Interestingly, most cases are a result of infection from adults to kids and not the other way around.

Given the scenario, it may be better to consider parents' vaccination first, instead of teenagers age 12-15. Such an exercise would not be difficult to execute given that data are readily available. 

2) Speed of the vaccination

While the vaccination has been approved, it was only recently implemented in May in only a handful of countries. While the short term effects are known to be amplified in teens, in comparison to adults, the short duration might not be long enough to consider the impact over weeks/months. That said, the longer-term impact of the vaccine remains a question mark as this is a relatively new type of vaccine that has no historical data on any effects developing over a lifespan.  

Personally, I support vaccination and had recently been vaccinated. I will bring my child for vaccination, but it is not an easy decision to make.

This article from Straits Times on the safety concerns of vaccination of kids under 16 might be worth a read.


3) The impact on school base on the current wave

Currently, there are only 1 or 2 isolated cases that occur in schools. Those cases are from PRIMARY schools and not Secondary schools. NO evidence spread is imminent at Secondary school levels given the number of students and schools infected. On the contrary, it is the number of preschoolers and primary students that will be more concerning. That said, it might make more sense to vaccine the caregivers of this group first if they have not done the vaccination.

4) Vaccination of other groups

A few emerging clusters highlight that some groups may need to be given priority in vaccination. Delivery riders, Cleaners, Hawkers form the core of some of the clusters for this wave. Given the possible spread from this group, targeted vaccination of this group regardless of age may be a better option than targeting secondary school kids.

5) COVID-19 effects on teens

So far, there have been few reports on teens having experienced severe symptoms of COVID-19 in Singapore. Most of the reports indicate those symptoms, if any, are mild for this group. If this is the case and with their immediate family vaccinated, it might be premature to put this group on the priority list.  


Today's rant is unexpectedly longer than I anticipated, so I will just dive right into Daily Dose

1) 23 COVID-19 cases

16 Community, 7 Imported

Out of these 16 community cases,3 are unlinked, and 2 detected under surveillance. Additionally, 2 more primary school students with links to existing cases are reported. NO secondary school students are infected.

Source: MOH


2) PM Lee Speech summarised

PM Lee made 3 main points during his speech

- Restriction to ease if community cases continue to fall by June 13

-Testing, contact tracing and vaccination to speed up

- Endemic will remain in Singapore, but it is possible to live a mask free life ( at least outdoor) in the future.

Source: TWD


3) Residents of 2 more blocks at Hougang and Blk 745 of Yishun Street 72 to be swabbed.

Blk 745 of Yishun Street 72 was due to the discovery of recent cases from the same block. For Block 501 and 507  on Hougang Ave 8, it is the result of 'viral fragments collected in the wastewater.

Source: Today



4) Students age 12 and above can register for the vaccine from June 1. Adults age 39 and below from mid-June. Adults, age 60 can get the jab anytime without registration or appointments.

If you are prepared to send your child for vaccination, do yourself a favour, get vaccinated too!

For children under 18, SMS for invitation will be sent to parents. Priority to be given for graduating cohort O, N and A Levels

Source: Today


5) RWS Casino , Food fare at Upper Serangoon view among places visited by COVID-19 cases

Also added to the list was NTUC Foodfare at 476D Upper Serangoon View, where a COVID-19 case had worked.

Full list can be found here.

Source: CNA


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