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Vaccination status in TraceTogether app will not change for those who take booster shots: Ong Ye Kung

Vaccination status in TraceTogether app will not change for those who take booster shots: Ong Ye Kung

A surgical mask beside a token and mobile phone application, both using the TraceTogether digital system to aid contact tracing efforts in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19, in Singapore on Sep 1, 2021. (File photo: AFP/Roslan RAHMAN)

SINGAPORE: People's vaccination status on their TraceTogether app will not change regardless of whether they have taken their booster shots, said Minister of Health Ong Ye Kung in Parliament on Monday (Oct 4). 

He was responding to a question by Member of Parliament (MP) Yip Hon Weng (PAP-Yio Chu Kang) about whether the definition of "fully vaccinated" would be changed to differentiate those who have taken the booster jab, and how this would be reflected in the TraceTogether app.

"We are administering boosters in good time, and so the issue of expiring vaccination status has not arisen," said Mr Ong. "But in time, this is an issue that we will need to review."

On the possibility of exploring other vaccines for the booster jab, Mr Ong said the Ministry of Health (MOH) will continue to administer mRNA vaccines under the national booster programme, "as the best available data utilises these vaccines for boosting with good effect".

The two vaccines used in Singapore's national vaccination programme are Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty and Moderna - both mRNA vaccines.

"The expert committee on COVID-19 vaccination is still studying the heterologous strategy of administering a non-mRNA booster shot that is different from the first two primary series mRNA doses as data emerges," Mr Ong added.

'ENCOURAGING START' TO BOOSTER PROGRAMME

About 550,000 people have been invited to take their booster shots, said the Health Minister, of which 350,000 have taken their jabs or booked an appointment.

"I think by now the numbers have gone up, 240,000 of them have completed their jabs. So we are off to an encouraging start," Mr Ong said.

It was announced previously that people aged 50 and above who completed both doses of the vaccine at least six months ago will be offered the shots.

"The expert committee has recommended, and MOH has accepted, that individuals eligible for boosters will include those aged 50 and above and all those who are immunocompromised," said Mr Ong on Monday.

He added that the committee will continue to review international data to assess the efficacy and safety of booster shots for younger groups, as well as those exposed to high risk environments, such as healthcare and frontline workers.

Eligible individuals who have taken the Sinovac or Sinopharm vaccine will also be invited to take an mRNA booster shot, although most of them are "not due yet", said Mr Ong.

VACCINATION KEY TO COVID-19 BATTLE

Mr Ong stressed that vaccination remains key to Singapore's battle against COVID-19.

"Those who are fully vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines are about 40 per cent protected against infection from the Delta variant," he said.

"Nevertheless, both vaccines remain very effective in protecting against severe illnesses from COVID-19 infections."

On the other hand, the number of people who took the Sinovac vaccine in Singapore is low, at "less than two per cent" of the population, said Mr Ong. 

As a result, the ministry does not have meaningful data at this point to gauge its effectiveness against infection or severe illnesses.

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Source: CNA/gy(gs)

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