The Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Ministry of Education (MOE) on Friday (4 June) issued an apology after a 16-year-old boy was erroneously administered the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at Kolam Ayer Community Club vaccination centre on Thursday.
The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is currently authorised for use in Singapore for individuals aged 18 and above.
In a joint statement on Friday, the ministries noted that the error was discovered onsite when vaccination centre staff identified that the individual was under 18 years of age during the post-vaccination observation period.
“As an additional precaution, he was placed under a longer observation time of 50 minutes, and remains generally well,” the statement said.
According to the statement, investigations found that the boy’s date of birth had been “erroneously entered” when booking a vaccination appointment after receiving the sign-up link.
This resulted in his age being incorrectly registered as above 18 years of age, making it possible for a Moderna vaccination centre to be selected, said the ministries.
“The vaccination centre staff had failed to verify his age during registration, which should have been carried out,” they added.
Both ministries highlighted that they take “a serious view of this incident”, and that the safety of those receiving the vaccination is “of utmost priority”.
“We apologise for the inconvenience and anxiety caused, and have reached out to the youth’s parents to explain the situation. The Expert Committee for COVID-19 Vaccination has reviewed this case, and does not expect him to suffer any safety issues from this incident,” they stated.
The ministries also assured that they are in close contact with the boy and his family, and will continue to monitor his health closely.
Meanwhile, MOH is conducting a thorough review of internal processes at vaccination sites to prevent a recurrence.
“This includes strengthening our online registration process to ensure individuals make appointments at suitable vaccination centres based on their eligibility, as well as putting in place more stringent protocols at our vaccination sites to verify eligibility,” it stated.
In a separate statement, the expert committee for COVID-19 said it has reviewed the incident and expects no safety issues caused by the receipt of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on the teen.
It revealed that data from a trial involving more than 3,700 adolescents aged 12 to 17 years old has found that the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective among adolescents “with no significant safety issues identified”.
According to the committee, the majority of adverse events were mild or moderate in severity, and the common ones were injection site pain, headache, fatigue, muscle aches and chills.
“The Expert Committee for COVID-19 Vaccination does not expect any safety issues from the receipt of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in the 16-year-old youth, and the medical team will consult the Expert Committee on what would be best for the youth for the completion of the vaccination,” it added.
The committee said it will continue to closely monitor the global evidence and developments on COVID-19 vaccines, in particular the emerging data on the efficacy and safety of vaccine use for more population subgroups, as more people are vaccinated globally and locally.
Netizens question the verification of NRIC before vaccination
While a fraction of netizens took to ST’s Facebook post applauding the ministries’ effort to issue an apology following the incident, many of them questioned why such an error could even happen in the first place, considering that the verification of an individual’s NRIC is required before vaccination.
One Facebook user wrote: “I would have thought info validation (NRIC and DOB) would have done when we are filling up the interest pre-registration form? If both details doesn’t match our record in govt database, code should not be given for appointment. This validation would have stopped the entire process.”
Meanwhile, a few netizens commented that all individuals under 18 years of age should be accompanied by their parents or guardians during the vaccination.