SINGAPORE: Singapore will accelerate its national COVID-19 vaccination programme as it has been able to bring forward the delivery of vaccine supplies, Minister for Health Ong Ye Kung announced on Thursday (Jun 24).
From Jun 26, health authorities will be able to administer up to 80,000 doses daily - a 70 per cent increase from the 47,000 daily doses currently.
As it ramps up the vaccination programme, another 500,000 new first-dose appointment slots will be added over the next few days from Jun 26, said Mr Ong.
“As we confirm our supply schedule, we are now confident that we can vaccinate more, and faster,” he added at a press conference by the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force.
READ: People vaccinated against COVID-19 will be given 'some concession' when overseas travel resumes: Gan Kim Yong
READ: Singapore on track to increasing group sizes for 'higher-risk' settings in July, including for dining-in: Lawrence Wong
Singapore has administered more than 5 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Wednesday, said Mr Ong.
More than 3 million people, or about 53 per cent of the population, have received their first dose. Of these, two million, or 36 per cent of the population, have received their second dose and are fully vaccinated.
PRIORITY WINDOW FOR SINGAPOREANS EXTENDED
The priority window for Singaporeans aged 12 to 39 to register to book their vaccine appointments will be extended by a week until Jul 1, said Mr Ong.
"Individuals who have already booked a slot for their first dose and have appointments in mid- to end-July are also encouraged to bring forward their appointments so that they can protect themselves and their loved ones sooner," said the Ministry of Health (MOH) in a press release.
And if vaccine supplies continue to arrive, Singapore will also bring forward the second doses of vaccination, said Mr Ong.
“Everyone who is willing and wants to take the first dose by (the) second half of July, we should have administered them, then we will have achieved our target of prioritising (the) first dose and giving some protection to as many people in our population as possible,” said the Health Minister.
“Once you achieve that, it will not make sense to have people continue to wait six to eight weeks until August or beyond for the second doses,” he said, adding that individuals will soon be invited to rebook their second doses at an earlier date.
READ: About half of COVID-19 cases in Bukit Merah View market cluster not vaccinated: Assoc Prof Mak
READ: Singapore targets having two-thirds of population fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by National Day
The Health Minister also announced that Singapore signed an advance purchase agreement with Novavax in January.
“On the non-mRNA vaccines, MOH has been looking out for vaccines that are of good quality, safe and effective to be part of our national vaccination programme,” said Mr Ong.
There have been “encouraging results” from the Novavax clinical trials, but the shipment “will not be ready so soon” as it is still undergoing clinical trials.
“We are working closely with Novavax and are awaiting their application for regulatory approval. We hope the vaccine supplies can arrive before the end of the year for those who want to take something that is non-mRNA,” he added.
READ: Amid demand for Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines, some Singapore healthcare firms looking at importing more non-mRNA shots
Noting the new target to fully vaccinate two-thirds of the population by National Day, Mr Ong said this is an “ambitious target” and is dependent on supplies arriving on time.
“The MTF (multi-ministry task force) will be drawing up a roadmap as we vaccinate faster and transition towards normalcy towards an endemic COVID-19 situation,” he added.
“But we are very mindful this is a shapeshifting enemy and it will continue to throw us surprises … But we are determined to see through this endgame.
“Then we’ll be able to put circuit breaker behind, this F&B open and close behind us, able to have bigger events … bigger wedding receptions and then overseas travel without stay-home notice and quarantine.”