SINGAPORE - About 131,000 people have moved their second Covid-19 vaccination appointments forward, with another 200,000 yet to do so.
Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, in disclosing this figure on Wednesday (July 7), urged people to do so to get better protection from Covid-19 earlier.
Last week, the Ministry of Health had said eligible people who make their vaccination appointments from June 29 will be able to schedule their first and second dose appointments four weeks apart, down from six to eight weeks previously.
The authorities had in May lengthened the interval between doses to prioritise giving out the first dose and accord some protection to as many in the population as possible.
But Mr Ong cited a recent United Kingdom study which showed that vaccine protection against the Delta variant was 35 per cent if only one dose had been received. This increases to 79 per cent if a person has received both doses.
"So get your two doses, you'll get better protection earlier. We have been sending out SMSes to those with later appointments to ask them to move (the date) forward... We hope they will rebook soon," he said during a virtual press conference by the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19, which he co-chairs.
Giving an update on the national vaccination programme, he said that two-thirds of the population had received their first doses as of on Wednesday - meeting a target mentioned in Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's national broadcast on May 31.
"And what it means is that once two-thirds had their first dose, a few weeks later, two-thirds will have their second dose. So we are on track to achieve two-thirds of our population fully vaccinated."
Under the national vaccination programme, 5.9 million doses of the vaccine have been administered as of Wednesday, including 3.7 million first doses, he said. At the current rate of vaccination, 50 per cent of the population can be expected to have received both shots around July 26.
The minister said that on average, the country is now vaccinating 76,000 individuals per day, although the total capacity is higher, at 80,000.
Achieving 50 per cent full coverage by the fourth week of July would be an important milestone, said Mr Ong, and Singapore can then open up further.
Once the milestone is reached, it would be timely to have a more definitive road map to transit towards endemic Covid-19, he said.