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S'pore to transition to 'up-to-date' vaccination policy as it recommends boosters for seniors, children aged 5-11

SINGAPORE — The Government is reviewing its vaccination policy to “transition to a system where we keep our vaccinations up-to-date”, as it recommended on Wednesday (Aug 24) a second booster shot for seniors and a first booster for children.

S'pore to transition to 'up-to-date' vaccination policy as it recommends boosters for seniors, children aged 5-11
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  • The Government is reviewing its Covid-19 vaccination policy
  • It will keep existing infection controls for the time being
  • It is now recommending a second Covid-19 booster shot for seniors aged 60 and above
  • Children aged five to 11 are also now encouraged to take their first booster dose

SINGAPORE — The Government is reviewing its policy on retaining one's Covid-19 vaccination status through boosters as it “transitions to a system where we keep our vaccinations up-to-date”. It also recommended on Wednesday (Aug 24) a second booster shot for seniors and a first booster for children.

Singapore's Covid-19 vaccination policy states that people need to get their first booster dose no later than 270 days after their primary vaccination series.

For the second booster, Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong said at a press conference by the Government's Covid-19 task force that it has not defined the policy yet.

"And for that matter, there may well be future boosters. So we need a more enduring system to define, to talk about vaccinations that are up-to-date on an ongoing basis." 

Mr Wong, who is co-chair of the task force, added that the Government is studying what that definition should be. When it moves to this new system, it will also review and update its policies on infection control measures that are tied to a person's vaccination status.

More updates will be given when the Government is ready, he said.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a statement that for the time being, there will be no changes these vaccine-dependent measures while the review takes place.

These measures have "served us well and helped keep us safe”, the ministry added, stating that most of them have been "retired" as Singapore moves towards a new normal of living.

“However, there may be new variants that emerge, and should there be the threat of a new wave or a dangerous new variant, we may need to reintroduce (the measures) or step up measures quickly to keep our community safe.”

FIRST BOOSTER FOR CHILDREN

The expert committee on Covid-19 vaccination now recommends that children aged five to 11 take their first booster dose — or third dose — of the Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty) vaccine from five months after the second dose of their primary vaccination series, MOH added.

MOH has accepted the committee’s recommendations in full and is preparing to begin offering boosters to children in the fourth quarter of this year, likely when examinations in primary schools have ended or close to ending, it said.

Five new vaccination centres will be set up at locations across the island to administer these doses. More details will be given later.

The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) has also extended the authorisation of Moderna’s Spikevax Covid-19 vaccine to children, including very young children aged six months up to five years old. 

“A decision on the recommendation for vaccination of this age group is expected soon,” MOH said. 

“If approved, we will time it together with the booster exercise for children aged five to 11, and administer them at the same centres for the convenience of parents.” 

SECOND BOOSTER FOR SENIORS

The expert committee has also recommended that people aged 60 and older receive a second messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccine booster dose from five months after their first booster shot. That would be those made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

Before this, the Government had already offered a second booster shot to people aged 50 and above, but recommended the second booster to those aged 80 and above.

“The first booster confers good protection against hospitalisation and severe Covid-19 in persons aged 60 to 79 years, and has helped us weather through the current wave,” MOH said, adding that it has accepted this recommendation by the expert committee.

“However, as it has been over a year since we administered the first booster to this age group, so we expect the protection to gradually wane.”

The latest evidence showed that a second booster can further strengthen vaccine effectiveness against severe diseases, MOH added.

The effectiveness increased from 94 per cent to 97 per cent for people aged 70 to 79, and from 97 per cent to 98 per cent for those aged 60 to 69. 

People who are medically vulnerable are also encouraged to receive their second booster, MOH said.

All individuals eligible for their primary series vaccination, as well as their first or second booster dose, may get them by walking into any of the 10 joint testing and vaccination centres located across the island. 

Residents who receive an invitation via phone text message may also book an appointment at these centres, as well as participating Public Health Preparedness Clinics or polyclinics.

VACCINATIONS FOR WORK PASS HOLDERS

From Oct 1, Covid-19 vaccination will continue to be required for approval of all new applications of long-term passes and work passes, MOH said.

Vaccination will also continue to be needed for the renewal of existing work passes for work permit holders and S Pass holders from the construction, marine shipyard and process sectors, or those residing in dormitories.

MOH said that this is to “sustain the high vaccination rates in our population, support safe reopening of our society and economy, and minimise business disruptions”.

More details can be found on the Ministry of Manpower’s website.

The addresses and opening hours of the 10 joint testing and vaccination centres located across the island for the general population can be found at https://www.gowhere.gov.sg/vaccine.

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Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine vaccination vaccine booster MOH children seniors

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