May 18 (UPI) -- Singapore has authorized the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for children between 12 and 15 years old, as COVID-19 cases continue to climb in the country.
Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said Tuesday that parents in Singapore should step up to their responsibility and have their children inoculated, the Straits Times reported.
"I would encourage parents that when the opportunity is available for your children to get vaccinated, not to turn away and deny your children that opportunity for them to get that protection from the virus," said Wong, a co-chair of Singapore's multi-ministry task force on COVID-19.
Singapore is urging adults and teens to receive vaccines as cases rise in the country. The country's caseload is relatively small compared to its neighbors, but clusters that average about 30 to 50 cases per day have been reported in recent weeks.
The country has a population of 5.8 million, and total number of cases reached 61,651 late Tuesday.
The country has made progress with a vaccination rate of 22.8%. But educational authorities have continued to order students to remain at home and connect to virtual networks for lessons.
Private institutes that specialize in after-school learning are required to remain online until June 13. Public schools must operate online until the end of the school term, according to the Straits Times.
Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said Tuesday that the government is confident about the efficacy and safety of the Pfizer vaccine for children, Channel News Asia reported.
"Teams have assessed that the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine demonstrated high efficacy and safety for this age group of 12 to 15 years old, which is consistent with what we have observed for the adult population," Ong said.
Singapore's Health Sciences Authority said the Pfizer vaccine "induced a robust immune response" and demonstrated "high vaccine efficacy of 100%," citing an ongoing Phase 3 clinical trial.