The city-state has just announced a series of measures to catalyse the national vaccination rollout.
As of 17 May, Singapore has administered more than 3.4mn doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to its residents, of which close to 2mn comprise individuals who have received at least the first dose of the vaccine. As such, about 71% of eligible seniors aged 60 and above, and close to 66% of eligible persons aged 45 to 59 years old have received the COVID-19 vaccination or booked their vaccination appointments, per the latest situational update.
The nation's Multi-Ministry Taskforce (MTF) has announced a series of measures to catalyse the national vaccination drive. "This is to give maximum number of people good protection, instead of having a good number of people getting maximum protection," noted Minister for Health, Ong Ye Kung.
The new measures are listed below:
Start of vaccination for those aged 40 to 44 years old
Those aged 40 to 44 years old are invited to register for their COVID-19 vaccinations from Wednesday, 19 May 2021. Given the high global demand for vaccines, Singapore's supply remains limited yet steady; thus vaccination programme eligibility will be opened up in in five-year age bands going forward, progressively moving to younger age groups.
Those who register should expect to receive a booking SMS within one to two weeks from registration, with appointment slots available up to mid-June. Those who have registered their interest previously will not need to re-register. More appointment slots for vaccination will be made available as more supplies arrive.
Extension of the vaccine dosing interval to between six to eight weeks
To provide vaccines for more people, the MTF will prioritise first doses of the vaccines, thus extending the interval between the first and second doses from three-four weeks currently to six-eight weeks, effective 19 May 2021.
This comes as a result of scientific evidence globally, which cites the maximum interval between mRNA COVID-19 vaccines could be extended to up to eight weeks, without materially impacting the eventual overall immune response, as long as the second dose is eventually administered. The approach of prioritising first dose vaccinations has also been adopted by countries such as the United Kingdom and Germany.
This move will not affected those who already have appointments for their second doses. Minister Ong shared: "Should you want to defer your second shot to give the chance to another person, you can call our helpline at 1800- 333-9999."
Updated guidance for use of masks
Recent clusters in Singapore suggest a higher level of transmission, likely attributed to new virus variants. Thus, the following guidelines have been released:
- Use mask with good filtration capability
- Includes reusable masks that are made of at least two layers of fabric, and surgical masks
- Check product specifications of single-use masks for their filtration efficiency\
- Use reusable masks such as masks issued by the People’s Association and Temasek Foundation which have good filtration efficiency
MOH and HSA will put up guidelines on choosing good masks.
Minister Ong shared the forward outlook: "With this new approach, we estimate that we will administer vaccines to 0.7mn people in June, and 1.3mn in Jul. By end July, 4.3mn of our population would have received at least one jab."
Photo credit / MCI as shared on Minister Ong Ye Kung's Facebook