SINGAPORE: Singapore on Tuesday (Jun 29) shortened the interval between the first and second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to four weeks, as part of efforts to ensure that more of the population will be fully vaccinated earlier.
Previously, the minimum interval was six to eight weeks.
The move applies to the Pfizer-BioNTech or Comirnaty, and Moderna vaccines.
All eligible individuals who make their vaccination appointments from Tuesday onwards will be able to schedule their first and second dose appointments four weeks apart, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) in a press release.
Those who have already received their first dose and have their second dose appointments currently scheduled for six to eight weeks later can rebook and bring forward their second dose appointment to four weeks from their first dose appointment.
They can do so by using the same personalised booking link in the SMS they received earlier, said MOH.
Permanent residents and long-term pass holders in Singapore aged 12 to 39 can also get vaccinated on Jun 30, said the Health Ministry, earlier than the previously announced Jul 2.
This is due to the steady vaccination take-up by Singapore citizens and new registrations from citizens aged 12 to 39 years old tapering off, said MOH.
"This will help sustain the momentum of vaccinations and better utilise our delivery capacity," the ministry said.
Individuals can register their interest online via vaccine.gov.sg. After registration, they will be invited to book their appointments via an SMS with a personalised booking link sent to the mobile number they registered with. They can book their set of two appointments, four weeks apart, from Jun 30 onwards.
MORE THAN 5.3 MILLION DOSES OF COVID-19 VACCINES ADMINISTERED
As of Jun 28, more than 5.3 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, said MOH.
About 3.3 million individuals, about 60 per cent of Singapore's population, have received at least the first dose of the vaccine. A total of 2.1 million individuals have received their second dose and completed the full vaccination regimen.
MOH said the "take-up rate" has been encouraging. As of Jun 28, about 76 per cent of eligible seniors aged 60 and above, 78 per cent of eligible people aged 45 to 59, as well as 73 per cent of eligible people aged 40 to 44 have received their COVID-19 vaccination or booked their appointments.
Almost 80 per cent of Singapore citizens aged 12 to 39 years, including Ministry of Education students, have received their vaccinations or booked their appointments.
Since Jun 24, about 50,000 have brought forward the date of their appointments for their first dose.
However, the "biggest worry" continues to be Singapore's senior citizens, with 24 per cent of them not yet vaccinated against COVID-19, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung on Tuesday.
"We worry that as Singapore opens up, there will be more movement and activity between people, and the greater the likelihood of them being exposed to the virus," said Mr Ong in a Facebook post.
Vaccination for seniors aged 70 and above began earlier this year on Feb 22, while inoculations for those aged between 60 and 69 started in end-March.
On May 31, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said those above 60 years old can now walk into any vaccination centre and get vaccinated on the spot.
"So please try to persuade your loved ones to go for vaccination," he said.
"And if you are a young person, by getting vaccinated, you also minimise the chance of bringing the virus to our seniors and infecting them," he added.
"We strongly encourage Singapore citizens aged 12 to 39 years who have not yet registered and booked their appointments to do so quickly, so that they can be protected against COVID-19 as early as possible," said MOH.
It added that vaccination remains a key enabler in the fight against COVID-19 and its ability to help Singapore reopen safely "can only be felt when we can collectively achieve a high level of population coverage for vaccination".