Debate over Sinovac jab for kids

Two medical professionals on Monday offered mixed views on whether children as young as three years old should be allowed to get a Sinovac jab ahead of a government advisory panel meeting to discuss the matter.

Sinovac has requested the administration to allow children aged three or above here to get a jab, which is currently only available for people aged 18 or above.

Respiratory medicine expert Leung Chi-chiu believes it is time to lower the age limit, saying many people have got the vaccine around the world without rare adverse events.

Leung pointed out that the Sinovac jab is being given to children aged three or older on the mainland. “Other countries like Chile and Colombia have also extended the age of application down to either six or three,” he added.

He said getting younger children vaccinated will help prevent any future outbreaks of the virus.

But president of the Society of Hospital Pharmacists, William Chui, said more information is needed about the Sinovac jab.

He said that while more than 100 million children have already received the vaccine on the mainland, “the problem is we have to know the distribution of age groups, especially for children [aged between] three to five years old, as they are very vulnerable.”

Chui called on the authorities to ask Sinovac for more information, saying it published “limited” data in Lancet in June, with only 56 children aged between three and five and 81 aged between six and 11 being involved.

The pharmacist also said the authorities could consider lowering the age limit for the BioNTech vaccine – available currently to local youngsters aged 12 and above – so parents can have a choice.