The Ministry of Health (MOH) has responded in a statement on Sunday (28 June) stating that the Expert Committee on COVID-19 Vaccination is aware of an open letter made by a group of doctors calling for Singapore to halt its vaccination programme for youths following the death of a 10-year-old boy in the United States.
The open letter, which was posted by a doctor named Dr Kho Kwang Po on Facebook on Saturday, was addressed to the chairman of the Expert Committee, Professor Benjamin Ong.
The letter was said to have been written “on behalf of many concerned paediatricians, primary care physicians, specialists, surgeons and GPs”, requesting for a temporary stop in Singapore’s vaccination drive until the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as other organisations around the world have come up with more robust and convincing data on the case.
It was signed by Dr Kho, Dr Wong Wui Min, a cardiologist and heart specialist at W.M. Wong Cardiac and Medical Clinic in Gleneagles Hospital, Dr A.M. Chia, Dr L.W. Ping, as well as Dr I.W. Yang.
It was earlier reported that the 10-year-old American boy passed away just a few days after receiving his second dose of COVID-19 jab in the United States. However, it is unclear which type of vaccination was given to the boy.
Responding to this, MOH pointed out that the social media post noted that the American boy died from heart failure, even though no cause of death has been made public and the case is currently under investigation by the US authorities.
“The post also highlighted the recent international reports of the association between myocarditis and dose 2 of the mRNA vaccines in young men,” it added.
Last Thursday, the US media reported that the boy, from Saginaw county in Michigan, passed away three days after receiving his second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The CDC was looking into if there was any link between the vaccination and the boy’s death.
The benefits outweigh the risks: MOH
In the statement, MOH noted that the use of safe and efficacious COVID-19 vaccines here is of “paramount concern”, adding that the Expert Committee is monitoring closely both local and international data to make sure its recommendations are up to date.
In fact, the Expert Committee has mentioned on 11 June that there’s possibility of a small risk of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) and pericarditis (inflammation of the lining outside the heart) associated with the second dose of the mRNA vaccines, MOH stated.
However, upon looking at the assessment of its review, the Expert Committee asserted that the “benefits of receiving the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines continues to outweigh the risks of vaccination”.
“Data on myocarditis and pericarditis has not changed since, and the Expert Committee’s assessment remains the same.”
If that’s not all, MOH also said that the data from the US shows that the cases of myocarditis after receiving mRNA vaccinations are rare.
“In addition, among the small number of cases, almost all had resolved with minimal medical intervention. Professional medical associations in the US, including the American College of Paediatrics and the American Heart Association in the US have continued to strongly encourage vaccination in everyone aged 12 years and older,” MOH said.
As such, the Expert Committee noted that it continues to recommend the use of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines for young men.
However, as a precautionary measure, it recommends those who has been vaccinated (especially adolescents and young men, to avoid strenuous physical activity for a week after receiving their second dose.
“During this time, they should seek medical attention promptly if they develop chest pain, shortness of breath or abnormal heartbeats.
“The Expert Committee notes the Ministry of Health had also issued guidance to all doctors to properly advise patients on the care they receive,” MOH said, adding that the Expert Committee will continue to monitor the local and international data and review its recommendations as needed.
Over on social media, online users have raised their concerns on vaccinating youths in Singapore after reading about the 10-year-old American boy who passed away just days after receiving his second dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
Penning their thoughts in the Facebook page of The Straits Times, netizens explained that they are “disappointed” with the system, adding that the Government should consider all reports before making such major decisions.
As such, they called for the Government to halt the vaccination programme for youths in Singapore as the risk of death is still there.
Others applauded the group of doctors for speaking up on the risks of getting youths vaccinated against COVID-19. They “salute” these doctors for having the “conscience” to highlight the health concerns for youths.
However, some expressed that the vaccination programme must go on to end the pandemic, and that parents should be given the right to decide if their children should be vaccinated. This is because some parents may be very worried about the risks posed by the vaccines on their young kids.