Among the updates on 23 October 2021, people who are unable to take either both the mRNA or Sinovac-CoronaVac vaccines will be exempt from VDS if they are certified to be medically ineligible.
Singapore's Ministry of Health (MOH), on 23 October 2021 (Saturday), released a slew of COVID-19 management updates which covered border measures, work arrangements, and more as Singapore looks to safely and progressively resume the nation's social and economic activities.
Human Resources Online has gathered five points you can take note of. Continue below to find out more.
#1 Workforce vaccination measures
From 1 January 2022, only employees who are fully-vaccinated, or have recovered from COVID-19 within the past 270 days, can return to the workplace in Singapore.
Unvaccinated employees will not be allowed to return to the workplace unless they have tested negative for COVID-19 before returning to the workplace, and they will need to pay for the costs of these tests.
According to MOH, the test should be a pre-event test at an MOH-approved COVID-19 test provider, and must be valid for the duration that the employees are required to be present at the workplace. It is noteworthy that negative ART results are valid only for 24 hours.
More information can be found here: Only fully-vaccinated employees can enter the workplace from 1 Jan 2022: Advisory for Singapore employers.
#2 Expanded enrolment criteria for Home Recovery Programme (HRP)
As Home Recovery Programme is officially the default option for the majority of COVID-19 patients, the Ministry has extended HRP to fully-vaccinated pregnant COVID-19 patients, who are below 35 years, and are less than 26 weeks pregnant. "These patients would be clinically assessed at selected hospitals to be suitable for home recovery before commencing HRP," MOH explained.
The Ministry added: "Meanwhile, we will continue to onboard more General Practitioners (GPs) to provide telemonitoring support for those on HRP, private sector hospitals to expand overall hospital bed capacity to manage COVID-19 and non-COVID patients, and stand up COVID-19 Treatment Facilities to augment the capacity of our public hospitals."
#3 Concession for medically ineligible individuals in Vaccination-Differentiated Safe Management Measures (VDS)
"We have implemented Vaccination-Differentiated Safe Management Measures across different settings to protect unvaccinated individuals and reduce the strain on our healthcare system. However, we recognise that there is a small group of people who are medically ineligible for both the mRNA and Sinovac-CoronaVac vaccines," MOH said.
As such, the Ministry will exempt such individuals from the VDS if they are certified to be medically ineligible for all vaccines under the NVP. More details on the medical criteria and timeline for the start of this concession will be issued in due course.
#4 Inclusion of Sinovac-CoronaVac under the National Vaccination Programme
The Sinovac-CoronaVac COVID-19 vaccine will be included in Singapore's National Vaccination Programme (NVP). However, the Ministry said that since it has been found to have relatively lower vaccine efficacy compared with mRNA vaccines, the following guidance will apply:
- Persons who can take the mRNA vaccines should continue to take two doses of the mRNA vaccines to complete their primary series regime;
- Persons who had received only one or two doses of the Sinovac-CoronaVac vaccine to-date, are strongly encouraged to complete a three-dose primary series regime with the mRNA vaccines as it offers more optimal protection;
- Persons who are unable to take any dose of the mRNA vaccines due to medical reasons, should receive three doses of Sinovac-CoronaVac in total to complete their primary series regime, and
- Persons who started vaccination with mRNA vaccines but developed allergies or severe adverse reactions after the first dose of mRNA vaccine should complete a three-dose primary series regime with two more doses of Sinovac-CoronaVac. If the allergic reaction happens after the second dose of mRNA vaccine, then he/she should take one more dose of Sinovac-CoronaVac as their booster vaccination when they are eligible for a booster.
MOH noted that this vaccine has not been approved for general use for individuals aged 12 to 17 years, and that all individuals who have taken two doses of Sinovac-CoronaVac will be regarded as fully vaccinated for four months after the second dose, or until 31 December 2021, whichever is later.
For travellers, the Ministry explained: "We recognise that many may have taken only two doses of Sinovac-CoronaVac in their home country, and we will regard those with two doses as vaccinated, but only for a limited period of 30 days."
#5 Progress of Vaccination Booster Programme
The Vaccination Booster Programme began on 3 October 2021 for persons aged 50 to 59 years, in addition to those aged 60 years and above who had started receiving their booster doses in September.
According to MOH's data, as of 21 October 2021:
- 655,029 individuals have received their booster dose, and
- More than four in five (82%) individuals aged 50 to 59 years and more than three in four (79%) seniors aged 60 years and above, who are eligible for their booster dose, have either booked an appointment or already received their booster dose.
Regarding booster vaccination for frontline workers, MOH said that, as of 21 October 2021, "We have invited about 190,000 persons aged 30 to 49 years to book an appointment for their booster dose, and about 138,000 (or 72% of those invited) have since booked an appointment".
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