askST: Should you take a Covid-19 booster jab even after getting infected?

Having an infection is not a substitute for taking the jab, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said. ST PHOTO: FELINE LIM
A woman getting a Covid-19 vaccination at Nee Soon Central on June 27, 2022. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - Singaporeans should still take their Covid-19 booster jabs even if they have been previously infected with the virus, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said on Monday (June 27) after touring a mobile vaccination centre in Nee Soon Central.

Here are some common questions which Mr Ong answered.

Q: Should I still take a Covid-19 booster jab even after I get infected?

A: Yes, you should. Having an infection is not a substitute for taking the jab, Mr Ong said.

"This is because all of us react differently to the infection - some may mount a meaningful response, some may not. So it is better for everyone to still take their jabs. But if you are recently infected, wait for 90 days," said Mr Ong.

"If for some reason you are very eager to take your booster, wait at least 28 days. But the effect after 90 days would be better," he added.

Q: People in their 50s and 60s have been offered the second booster shot. If I am within that age group, should I take it?

A: Based on data for those in their 50s and 60s, protection against severe illness and hospitalisation remains very strong, nine months after the first booster shot.

"And that is why we did not say we strongly recommend that you take the shot, but said we are offering these shots," Mr Ong said.

They are being offered because there may be circumstances where people want to take their shots, such as those who live with the elderly, have to travel, or have underlying illnesses that make them worried about their health, he added.

"So for those reasons, if you want to take the shot, you will be offered. You know yourselves much better than us, so judge your circumstances, and if you need to, just walk in and you'll be able to take it," Mr Ong said.

From June 10, those aged 50 to 59 were added to the older age groups who are being offered a second booster.

Q: Do I have to change the type of vaccine when I go for my booster jab?

A: All the vaccines are very good and effective, and there is no need to change the vaccine, Mr Ong said.

"But I do know that many residents, especially seniors, may be a bit worried about mRNA vaccines...they may have some sort of underlying illness, or experienced a bit of reaction after the second or third shot. In those cases, they can take the Novavax vaccine. It has high efficacy and is based on traditional technology," he said.

The Novavax vaccine has been approved for individuals here aged 18 and above, and was the first non-mRNA vaccine to be recommended as a booster dose.

Manufactured under the name Nuvaxovid, Novavax is a protein-based, or protein subunit, vaccine.

Vaccines based on mRNA technology, such as Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty and Moderna, use material from the virus to teach the body's cells to make copies of a protein unique to the virus, and build up resistance to it.

Protein-based vaccines include pieces of the virus. When a person is vaccinated with them, the body realises that the protein should not be there and creates antibodies to fight it.

Nuvaxovid teaches the body's immune system to create antibodies that fight the coronavirus' spike protein, which the virus uses to enter human cells.

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