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Bivalent Covid-19 booster jabs extended to those aged 18 to 49 from Nov 7; households to get antigen rapid test kits

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Health (MOH) will begin to invite eligible people aged between 18 and 49 to receive a booster in the form of a Covid-19 bivalent vaccine from Nov 7.

A close-up view of the Moderna-Spikevax bivalent vaccine in a file photo taken on Oct 11, 2022.

A close-up view of the Moderna-Spikevax bivalent vaccine in a file photo taken on Oct 11, 2022.

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SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Health (MOH) will begin to invite eligible people aged between 18 and 49 to receive a booster in the form of a Covid-19 bivalent vaccine from Nov 7.

Each household in Singapore will also receive 12 antigen rapid test kits from Nov 21 as part of the Government's efforts to encourage people to test themselves for Covid-19 when they are unwell.

In a media release on Friday (Nov 4), MOH said that even though the recent wave of Covid-19 cases driven by the Omicron XBB variant is subsiding, there are multiple subvariants still circulating globally and Singapore must remain vigilant.

The country's three lines of defence will be in keeping vaccination up to date, regular self-testing to enable detection and isolation and to exercise personal and social responsibility. 

On the extension of the bivalent booster to younger residents, MOH said that those in the 40 to 49 age group will be invited first to get the bivalent jab in the initial phase before an invitation is extended to those in the younger age groups.

Those who are eligible for the bivalent booster will receive an SMS with a personalised booking link to make an appointment at one of the joint testing and vaccination centres.  

MOH said that it will facilitate walk-ins at these centres only for those aged 50 and above, as well as for healthcare workers, to avoid overcrowding.

The bivalent vaccine was first rolled out on Oct 14 to people who have not achieved minimum protection, or those aged 50 and above who received their last dose more than five months ago. Healthcare workers were offered the bivalent vaccine from Oct 25.

As of Wednesday, over 65,000 people have received the Moderna-Spikevax bivalent Original-Omicron BA.1 vaccine dose, or have booked an appointment, said MOH.

The ministry on Friday noted that the Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty) bivalent Original-Omicron BA.4/5 vaccine has recently been approved locally for use in those aged 12 years and above.

“Supplies are expected to arrive towards the end of the year and more details will be shared later. Individuals, including children, are encouraged to receive Covid-19 vaccines recommended for them as soon as they are eligible to do so to ensure timely protection,” said MOH.

UP-TO-DATE VACCINATION

The ministry said that all adults aged 18 and above are to ensure they keep up to date with their Covid-19 vaccination.

After achieving the “minimum protection”, they should get an additional booster dose between five months to one year from their last dose.

“Individuals will be considered up to date with their Covid-19 vaccination if they have received at least the minimum protection and their last vaccine dose was received within the past one year,” MOH said.

Those who have received at least three doses of messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) or the Nuvaxovid vaccines as well as those who have received at least four doses of the Sinovac-CoronaVac vaccines are considered to have minimum protection. 

Separately, the ministry added that since last month, those aged 18 and above are allowed to take the Sinovac-CoronaVac vaccine as a booster without the need to prove their medical ineligibility to mRNA or Novavax-Nuvaxovid vaccines.

“This is to encourage those who have been vaccinated with three doses of Sinovac-CoronaVac to achieve a minimum level of protection against Covid-19 with the fourth dose, although the recommendation is still for these individuals to receive the updated bivalent Moderna-Spikevax, Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty) or Novavax-Nuvaxovid vaccines for better protection.

“We strongly urge individuals who have received three doses of Sinovac-CoronaVac to receive their fourth vaccine dose if they have not yet done so,” said MOH.

HOUSEHOLDS TO RECEIVE MORE ART KITS

MOH noted that regular testing for Covid-19 is key to enable early detection of the virus and isolation, “particularly when one is unwell, coming back from overseas travel, or before visiting and interacting with vulnerable groups such as the elderly”.

To encourage Singaporeans to self-test, the government will conduct a fourth round of antigen rapid test kit distribution, with each household receiving 12 kits.

The deliveries are expected to start from Nov 21.

“As it is the peak holiday season and there is a high volume of antigen rapid test kits being delivered, we seek the public’s understanding that some households may receive kits later than others,” MOH said.

The Government will also continue to support lower income households who may require more antigen rapid test kits.

Beneficiaries of the Social Service Offices and Family Service Centres may continue to request extra test kits at these locations while MOH will work with the Ministry of Education and Early Childhood Development Agency to provide more kits to students from lower-income households.

NEED TO MAINTAIN VIGILANCE

MOH on Friday said that there are now multiple subvariants of the coronavirus circulating globally and new variants may also form.

“With the recovery in international travel, a new highly transmissible variant can enter and spread in Singapore without much advance warning. As such, we cannot be complacent,” the ministry warned.

"It is now even more important that we shore up our defences ahead of any future evolution of the Covid-19 virus and prepare in advance to respond should the need arise."

It added that living with Covid-19 means that Singaporeans must become used to a resurgence of cases due to a new variant from time to time.

“We must take appropriate measures to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe, such as by keeping our vaccinations up to date, testing when necessary and maintaining personal hygiene."

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MOH bivalent vaccine antigen rapid test Covid-19

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