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31 January : the start of vaccination for young children

On 31 January, vaccination against COVID-19 for young children aged 5 to 11 years will begin. Primary focus of the vaccination campaign will be on children with underlying health problems.

Director General of the Department of Disease Control (DDC), Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, explained that Pfizer’s vaccine for young children is packaged with an orange vial cap, with each vial containing 1.3 millilitres of concentrated mRNA vaccine, which should be diluted with 1.3 millilitres of 0.9% sodium chloride solution before use. Each vial can provide 10 doses after dilution.

A schedule of primary immunisation for children aged 5-11 years requires 2 doses, each administered 3-12 weeks apart. This children’s version of the mRNA vaccine can be maintained for up to 10 weeks at 2-8 degrees Celsius, after removal from cold storage.

Using lower doses, side effects in young children would be fewer than in older children. Typical side effects include fever, chills, headache, muscle pain and fatigue, as well as swelling and redness at the injection site. These side effects should disappear within 1-2 days. Children will be monitored for 30 minutes after the injection for any adverse effects.

The President of the Royal College of Paediatricians of Thailand, Dr Somsak Loraka, said that the dose used in young children is one-third lower than that used in adults, and that the vaccine is proven safe in real-world studies in several countries.

Currently, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the only COVID-19 vaccine approved for young children by the Thai Food and Drug Administration.

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