SINGAPORE: Seniors in nursing homes will start receiving their COVID-19 booster shots from Wednesday (Sep 15), announced Health Minister Ong Ye Kung.
Around 140,000 seniors will also receive invitations via SMS over the next few days to book appointments for their booster dose at a vaccination centre, polyclinic or participating public health preparedness clinic, said the minister in a Facebook post on Tuesday evening.
Mr Ong added that mobile and home vaccination teams were fully activated and making visits to vaccinate those who were unable to leave their homes.
Two new community care facilities, with a total capacity of 1,000 beds, will also be opened by the end of this month, said the Mr Ong.
"From today, we are stepping up another 300 beds to 1,300 isolation beds for COVID-19 cases in NCID and hospitals," he added.
Mr Ong reminded the public that GPs and polyclinics should always be the “first port of call” for less urgent medical problems.
"This will go a long way to help emergency departments prioritise treatments for serious cases," he said.
The minister's announcement comes a day after a new large COVID-19 cluster of 28 cases was detected at Ren Ci nursing home in Bukit Batok.
As of Monday morning, a total of eight staff members and 20 residents of the nursing homes have been infected with the coronavirus. Among those who tested positive, only one resident was not vaccinated.
Last week, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said that seniors aged 60 and above and residents of aged-care facilities would be invited to receive their booster dose of an mRNA vaccine authorised under the Health Science's Authority's Pandemic Special Access Route (PSAR) "progressively".
These individuals are required to have completed their vaccination regimen with two doses at least six months ago.
Individuals who are “moderately to severely immunocompromised” and are fully vaccinated are also “encouraged” to receive a third dose of any PSAR mRNA vaccine such as the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines two months after their second dose, said the ministry.
“However, they should consult their treating specialist, who would have the best understanding of their medical condition, prior to receiving their third dose,” said MOH.
COVID-19 booster shots ensure that those who have "blunted immune response" to vaccination have further protection, MOH had said previously.
Seniors, the Health Ministry said, should receive a booster dose of an mRNA vaccine about six to nine months after having completed their primary course of vaccination regimen.