Open letter to appeal for the removal of VDS for teenagers
An open letter to our Ministers in MMTF, MOH and MOE dated 15 Jan 2022:
1. We are a group of parents, grandparents and other concerned members of our community writing to you to appeal the lifting of the implementation of the Vaccination-Differentiated Safe Management Measures (VDS) for teenagers aged 12 to 18. Among our teenage children, some have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and some are not. Nonetheless, we stand in solidarity in putting forth this letter on behalf of our children regardless of their vaccination status.
𝐕𝐃𝐒 𝐜𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐬 𝐮𝐧𝐧𝐞𝐜𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐚𝐫𝐲 𝐝𝐢𝐯𝐢𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐚𝐦𝐨𝐧𝐠𝐬𝐭 𝐜𝐡𝐢𝐥𝐝𝐫𝐞𝐧 𝐰𝐡𝐨 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐨 𝐞𝐦𝐛𝐫𝐚𝐜𝐞 𝐢𝐧𝐜𝐥𝐮𝐬𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐬
2. The past two years have been no doubt the most challenging years in our children’s lives. Being a teenager and having to grapple with the transition from childhood to adulthood is hard enough even in a normal world. We are appealing for the VDS to be lifted for our children as we do not wish for them to be divided and treated differently on the basis of their vaccination status.
3. Since young, our children have been taught to embrace inclusiveness and to be open to new ideas and differing views. People should not be treated differently because of their physical attributes, beliefs and opinions or lifestyle choices.
4. The implementation of the VDS sends the message that it is fine for a minority group to be excluded from various activities and places because of a legitimate choice that has been made. This goes against the values of inclusiveness and graciousness that our schools and society have been inculcating in our children. The impact of these measures are felt by not only the teenagers who are subjected to them but also by the rest who witness such measures being implemented on their friends and peers.
𝐏𝐚𝐫𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐬’ 𝐜𝐡𝐨𝐢𝐜𝐞 𝐨𝐧 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐭𝐨 𝐯𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐢𝐧𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐜𝐡𝐢𝐥𝐝𝐫𝐞𝐧
5. Most of us are not against vaccinations. Some of us have ourselves been fully vaccinated. However, we choose to tread with caution when it comes to vaccinations for our children. There is currently no long-term data available on Covid-19 vaccines. At such a young age, any long-term or lifelong effects from the vaccination may affect them for many decades to come.
6. Currently, there is no choice of Covid-19 vaccines for this age group. Those of us who have made the choice of not vaccinating our children based our decision on the following reasons:
(a) evaluated higher risks vs benefits of receiving the vaccination - data in Singapore has shown to-date that there is 100% recovery for teenagers and a very small risk of severe illness (refer to appendix - 1).
On the contrary, it has been observed that all the Covid-19 vaccines used in Singapore can result in severe adverse events. Some Covid-19 vaccines like the Pfizer mRNA can cause myocarditis, blood clots and in rare cases, even death (refer to appendix- 2a). While the risk of myocarditis and pericarditis is rare, with an incidence of 5.8 per 100,000 doses for those aged 12 - 19 years (refer to appendix - 2b), we are still worried for our children who may be the unfortunate ones to suffer such effects of the vaccine.
(b) It has been demonstrated globally that the Pfizer mRNA does not stop transmission so everyone, if infected with covid, can spread the virus (e.g. omicron spread via VTL) (refer to appendix - 3).
(c) The government has determined that the vaccination is voluntary and not compulsory.
7. The parents among us have evaluated all the information and data available and arrived at our decision. For those of us who had decided to vaccinate our children, we did so with the expectation that they would be able to resume their normal lives and activities and that they would not be required to take further doses of the vaccine.
𝐕𝐃𝐒 𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐮𝐥𝐭𝐬 𝐢𝐧 𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐚𝐥 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐞𝐦𝐨𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥 𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐜𝐡𝐢𝐥𝐝𝐫𝐞𝐧
8. The implementation of the VDS for this age group has resulted in great hardship and stress for those who are not fully vaccinated. They are excluded from participating in many social activities and going to many public places. They are even excluded from some school activities like learning journeys to places of interest. These measures are detrimental to their mental and emotional health and well-being.
9. Healthy teenagers who are not fully vaccinated are at low risk of getting severely ill from contracting Covid-19 but are suffering in silence as a result of these measures. Even among those in this age group who are fully vaccinated, some of them feel sad and are affected because they are not able to enjoy activities and outings with their friends who are not fully vaccinated. MOE places great importance on the mental well-being of our students and many of them in this age group, vaccinated or not, are feeling great stress and sadness over these measures.
𝐀𝐩𝐩𝐞𝐚𝐥 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐕𝐃𝐒 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐜𝐡𝐢𝐥𝐝𝐫𝐞𝐧 𝐚𝐠𝐞𝐝 𝟏𝟐 𝐭𝐨 𝟏𝟖
10. MOH has recently clarified that there are currently no plans to implement the VDS for children aged 5 to 11. We would like to appeal to MOH to consider removing the VDS for our older children aged 12 to 18. They are still children and are not able to decide for themselves whether to take the vaccine as they require the consent of their parents to do so. Every parent has been given a choice and has made an informed decision according to what the parent perceives is in the best interests of the child.
11. Please allow our children, regardless of vaccination status, to stand together so that they can emerge from this pandemic with the hope of a brighter future as a united future generation of Singapore.
12. We sincerely hope that, and would be grateful if, you could consider and allow our appeal.
1. Data showing zero deaths in teenagers and very low risk of serious conditions
2a. Articles demonstrating risk of severe adverse events
3*. Articles showing transmission risk is not reduced even for vaccinated individuals
*Editorial note from Movingtheneedlesg: Some experts opine that vaccinated persons are less likely to get COVID, and thus, from that perspective, are less likely to transmit it to others.