As parents, ensuring the health and well-being of our children is a top priority. One of the most effective ways to safeguard their health is through vaccinations.
In Singapore, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has a comprehensive vaccination schedule to protect children from infancy to adolescence. In this article, we will provide expert advice on the essential vaccinations for your child in Singapore in 2023.
The National Childhood Immunisation Schedule
As of 2023, the National Childhood Immunisation Schedule in Singapore recommends several key vaccines for children. These vaccines include:
- Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis (DTaP): DTaP is a combination vaccine that protects against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough). Children typically receive multiple doses of DTaP during their early years, followed by booster shots as they grow older.
- Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR): Guards against these highly contagious viral diseases. It is typically administered in two doses, the first at 12 to 15 months of age and the second at 4 to 6 years old.
- Hepatitis B: Prevents liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus. The Hepatitis B vaccine is typically administered to newborns in Singapore. It is important to complete the vaccination series, which usually consists of three doses, to ensure your child’s protection.
- Polio: Shields against polio, a potentially crippling viral infection.
- Hemophilus Influenzae Type B (Hib): Prevents serious infections, including pneumonia and meningitis. Multiple doses are usually administered during infancy.
- Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV): Protects against pneumonia, ear infections, and other pneumococcal diseases. Multiple doses are typically given during infancy.
- Rotavirus: Guards against severe diarrhoea and dehydration caused by rotavirus.
- Varicella (Chickenpox): Prevents chickenpox, a highly contagious childhood disease. It is typically administered in two doses.
Do note that according to Singapore law, it is compulsory for all babies to be vaccinated against diphtheria and measles.
Besides NCIP’s recommended vaccines, you may wish to consider optional vaccinations to give your baby an extra protection boost against these diseases:
- Influenza (Flu) Vaccine: Recommended annually, especially for children with underlying health conditions. While not mandatory, the influenza vaccine is strongly recommended for children. Influenza can lead to severe complications, and getting vaccinated annually is essential to protect your child from the flu.
- Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine: HPV vaccine helps protect against certain types of cancer caused by the human papillomavirus. It is recommended for adolescents, usually between the ages of 9 and 14.
- COVID-19 Vaccine:
Only COVID-19 vaccines that are assessed to be safe and efficacious are authorised by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) for use in Singapore. Vaccination has recommended the (i) Moderna/Spikevax and Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty vaccine for persons aged 6 months to 4 years, (ii) Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty vaccine for persons aged 5 years to 11 years and, (iii) Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty and Novavax/Nuvaxovid vaccine for persons aged 12 years to 17 years. Read more and be updated on MOH’s Guidelines for vaccinating your child on COVID-19 here.
While it is important for your baby to be immunised against these diseases, keep in mind that different vaccines work best at different ages. For example, the BCG vaccine, which protects your baby against tuberculosis, and the first dose of the hepatitis B vaccine are given at birth. However, the first dose of the combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine is not given until he/she is 12 months old. Additionally, all vaccines except for BCG are given in doses. As such, parents are recommended to follow the National Childhood Immunisation Schedule (NCIS).