COVID-19 booster shots to be extended to those aged 30 and above, healthcare and frontline workers
SINGAPORE: Healthcare workers and frontline COVID-19 workers who have completed both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at least six months ago will be offered booster mRNA vaccination shots from Saturday (Oct 9), the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced.
The ministry is also working with various institutions to progressively roll out booster jabs to eligible persons in institutionalised settings, such as prisons and residential care facilities, it added.
In addition, those aged 30 and above who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 about six months ago will also be progressively invited to make an appointment for a booster shot, MOH said.
In a press release on Saturday (Oct 9), MOH said it had accepted recommendations from the Expert Committee on COVID-19 Vaccination for these booster shots.
"Our healthcare and frontline workers are more likely to come into regular contact with COVID-19 cases in the course of their work and are at greater risk of infection," said MOH.
Those in areas such as prisons or residential care facilities live in indoor settings of "increased human density" that are "predisposed to large outbreaks of COVID-19", it added.
"Expanding the booster programme to persons aged 30 and above will also help to raise the overall level of protection in the population," it said.
A text message with a personalised booking link will be sent to their mobile phones to book an appointment on www.vaccine.gov.sg, it said, adding that booster shots are available at any vaccination centre or participating Public Health Preparedness Clinic.
MOH noted that as of Oct 7, almost 372,000 people had received their booster shots, previously open to those aged 50 and above.
It added that 57 per cent of those aged between 50 to 59, and 72 per cent of people aged 60 and above who are eligible have either booked an appointment or already received their booster dose.
Singapore started its national COVID-19 vaccination programme in December last year, with healthcare workers being the first to receive the jabs.
As of Oct 7, more than 9.3 million doses have been administered, with about 4.5 million people having completed the full regimen.
The expert committee on COVID-19 vaccination said on Saturday that while two doses of the vaccine provide "excellent protection" against severe disease, there is evidence that there is waning protection against infection over time.
"Locally, an increased risk of vaccine-breakthrough infections has been observed, starting from around six months after the completion of the first two vaccine doses," said the committee.
"This is contributing to the high daily rates of new COVID-19 infections locally, although protection against severe disease remains high. Booster vaccination is therefore needed to reduce COVID-19 infection and transmission," it added.
It also noted that healthcare and frontline workers, who were vaccinated at the start of the national vaccination programme, were observed to have a 1.4 to two times greater risk of being infected in the current surge.
Touching on people who have recovered from COVID-19 and were fully vaccinated before their infection, the Committee said that this group would not need a booster dose.
Unvaccinated people who recovered from COVID-19, or were partially vaccinated before their infection, should receive one dose of mRNA vaccine at least three months after infection to reduce their risk of reinfection.
Booster jabs will initially be offered to frontline workers in places such as hospitals, nursing homes and dormitories, as well as those at Changi Airport and Singapore's checkpoints, said Minister for Health Ong Ye Kung during a press conference on Saturday.
After that, bus and taxi drivers may be included, as well as hawkers and retail assistants, Mr Ong said. He noted, however, that many of these people would already be covered with the extension of the booster shot programme to those aged 30 and above.