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Singapore

Second COVID-19 booster recommended for those 80 and above, aged care facility residents, 'medically vulnerable' people

03:14 Min
The Ministry of Health (MOH) will recommend that people aged 80 and above, aged care residents and those considered to be “medically susceptible to severe COVID-19” receive a second booster dose. Sherlyn Seah reports.

SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Health (MOH) will recommend that people aged 80 and above, aged care residents and those considered to be “medically susceptible to severe COVID-19” receive a second booster dose. 

“These include persons with chronic diseases of the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver and other organ systems,” MOH said on Thursday (Mar 24).

This is in line with the recommendations of the Expert Committee on COVID-19 Vaccination (EC19V), given emerging international data on the waning of vaccine protection against severe disease with time, MOH said.

"This will help ensure that these at-risk groups remain highly protected as we resume normal activities," MOH said, as it announced the easing of restrictions in several aspects, including group sizes and the need for masks

Speaking at a multi ministry COVID-19 task force press conference, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said the second booster should be administered five months after the first booster dose. 

“This is because these groups of individuals have been found, observed, to experience faster waning of protection against infection and to a lesser extent, severe disease,” he said.

He said that even if these groups do not take the extra jab, they will retain their fully vaccinated status. 

“They are strongly encouraged to go for the second booster to protect themselves. More details on how at-risk groups can receive their second booster dose will be announced later,” said MOH.

As of now, there is no recommendation for healthy people in younger age groups to receive an additional dose, said MOH director of medical services Associate Professor Kenneth Mak at the press conference. 

He said that people in this group have better immune response to vaccination and are at a lower risk for getting severe disease. 

“Our local data shows that their protection against severe infection has been sustained after a third mRNA vaccination dose and the degree of vaccine waning over time has not been as great as in the older populations,” he said.

This is supported by international data, which has yet to provide clear evidence of the benefit of the fourth dose for these groups, compared to the older age groups, he said. 

VACCINATION CENTRES CEASING OPERATIONS

Giving an update on the progress of Singapore's vaccination programme, MOH said that as of Mar 22, more than 92 per cent of the population have completed their primary series vaccinations and 71 per cent have received their booster doses. 

More than 76 per cent of the eligible population among those aged between five and 11 years old have taken at least their first dose, including about 85 per cent of our primary school students, MOH added.

This means that the number of doses administered has reduced steadily over the past weeks, MOH added.

In view of that, MOH will progressively step down the number of vaccination centres starting from end-April and free up these spaces for other uses, MOH said.

Marine Parade Community Club (CC) will cease operations on Apr 30 2022 while Woodlands CC and Nee Soon East CC’s last day of operation will be on May 31 2022, MOH said. 

Marine Parade CC will administer the last Dose 1 on Apr 9 and continue to administer Dose 2 and booster doses until Apr 30. 

Woodlands CC and Nee Soon East CC will administer the last Dose 1 on May 2 and May 10 respectively. Both community clubs will continue to administer Dose 2 and booster doses until May 31.

Of the 13 paediatric vaccination centres, 12 will remain operational until end-April. From May to July, MOH plans to reduce the number of these centres from 12 to two, MOH said.
    
MOH will progressively onboard selected Public Health Preparedness Clinics and polyclinics to provide paediatric vaccine doses to children who have yet to receive their primary series vaccination. Further details will be announced at a later date, MOH said.

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Source: CNA/ja(ac)
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