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Children being observed after receiving their Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine jab at the Pasir Ris Elias Community Club in Singapore December 27, 2021. — TODAY pic
Children being observed after receiving their Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine jab at the Pasir Ris Elias Community Club in Singapore December 27, 2021. — TODAY pic

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SINGAPORE, Jan 13 —Kalpana Srinivasan was initially hesitant to get her two children, aged six and 10, vaccinated against Covid-19.

Given that they have already been inoculated against several other diseases such as measles since they were babies, the 36-year-old homemaker was worried about the potential side effects of them being jabbed with yet another vaccine.

It was her 10-year-old daughter, in addition to some research on the internet, that persuaded her to get them immunised. 

“Because all her friends have taken (the vaccine). She herself gave me the idea, saying, ‘Let’s go, let’s book. Everybody in my class has done it. Why not me? You don’t have to be worried’.

“She was the one who gave me the boost. I was actually doubtful about whether to go or not.”

Her daughter, Vishaaka Sivakumar, a student in an international school, said that her classmates told her they only experienced a little bit of pain while being jabbed and that any side effects faded away quite soon. 

Vishaaka said: “I wanted to go tell my friends that I have also gotten vaccinated. It was a fun thing to say, rather than everyone else getting it and me being the last. I wanted to be one of the early people.”

Getting his shot together with Vishaaka on Wednesday (Jan 12) at a paediatric vaccination centre in Our Tampines Hub was her six-year-old younger brother Tushyant Sivakumar. 

Tushyant said that he was not scared about the injection and that it was only “a little bit” painful. 

Kalpana’s younger child was among some 5,000 children aged five and six who had already been registered by their parents or guardian to be vaccinated against the coronavirus as of Wednesday, a spokesperson from the Early Childhood Development Agency said.

The Ministry of Health announced about a month ago that it was expanding its vaccination programme to include 300,000 children aged five to 11, and they would be getting paediatric doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty) Covid-19 vaccine. 

The vaccination programme for children started with Primary 4 to Pri 6 students from Dec 27, before being rolled out to Pri 1 to Pri 3 students from the week of Jan 3. 

And from the week of Jan 10, parents or guardians of all children aged five and older have been able to register their interest on the national appointment system.

Overall, about 123,000 children in this age group had received at least one dose of the vaccine or booked vaccination appointments as of Jan 7. 

Another parent, Diana Mohamed, 42, said that she was also initially concerned about the side effects that a Covid-19 vaccine would have on her two daughters, who are in Pri 3 and Pri 6. 

“There are plenty of speculations about the vaccines not being suitable for kids before they did some tests,” the homemaker said. 

However, after reading news reports about trials done on children within that age group in the United States, she overcame her fears and decided to get her children vaccinated. 

“For all parents, we don’t want our kids to contract Covid. And they need to go to school. It’s not like we can homeschool them. They are definitely going to mix around. It is much safer that they take the vaccine rather than not,” she said. 

Diana’s older daughter, Maiesha Erina, said that she was initially scared of the side effects as she had heard from friends that it was very painful to move the arm where the vaccine was injected. 

When asked about her experience getting the first dose, the Pri 6 student said that it was not as bad as she had feared and she was doing fine with the exception of a slight sore arm.  

Other parents who spoke to TODAY said that they did not have much of a concern about getting their children inoculated with the Covid-19 vaccine. 

Matt Liew, 38, also looked to data from trials done overseas in the US and Israel, which showed that only a small percentage of children had severe side effects, and that helped allay his concerns. 

So the engineer also took his five-year-old son Titus to Our Tampines Hub to get vaccinated. 

“There is no vaccination that is 100 per cent safe,” Liew said. 

Titus told TODAY that he was a little afraid in the morning before going for the jab, but the experience turned out to be not as scary as he thought. — TODAY

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