Covid-19 jabs to be extended to those below 45 from June

If all goes well, inoculation programme will be completed by the end of the year: Janil

Residents aged below 45 are set to receive invitations to book their slots for Covid-19 vaccination from June, as Singapore makes steady progress in its inoculation drive.

This estimated timeline is based on the current schedule for the vaccine roll-out, Senior Minister of State for Health Janil Puthucheary told Parliament yesterday.

"If all goes well, we will complete the vaccination programme as scheduled by the end of the year," he said.

Updating the House on Singapore's inoculation programme, Dr Janil said that as at last Saturday, about 1.05 million individuals have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

Of these, more than 468,000 have received their second dose and completed the full vaccination regimen.

He also said that about 60 per cent of eligible seniors aged 70 and above, and close to 70 per cent of eligible seniors aged 60 to 69, have received their Covid-19 shots or booked their vaccination appointments to date.

Among residents aged 45 to 59, about half, or close to 500,000, have registered for vaccination so far, and about 17 per cent of them have received the vaccine or booked their appointments.

The rest of the individuals in the 45-to-59 age band who have registered for the jab should receive invitations through SMS to make appointments by the middle of next month, and can expect a booking slot by early June, Dr Janil said.

"This may take some time, given the number of people who have registered," he said.

The number of vaccination centres has been expanded to 31 so far, and there will be a total of 40 vaccination centres islandwide by the middle of this month, said Dr Janil in response to MPs who had filed questions about the Republic's vaccination programme.

Workers' Party chairman Sylvia Lim (Aljunied GRC) asked about the proportion of people who have been rejected for the vaccination, while Mr Murali Pillai (Bukit Batok) sought an update on the vaccination drive.

Responding to Ms Lim, Dr Janil said that about 1 per cent of people who turned up for their Covid-19 shots were rejected because of concerns about allergies and conditions that could make them ineligible to receive the jab.

Close to 98 per cent of those who booked appointments for vaccination in the last 30 days showed up - meaning that about 2 per cent of them did not turn up for their appointments.

Still, there is no vaccine wastage in such circumstances, as unopened vials can be stored at the vaccination sites for at least three days, Dr Janil said.

There are also pre-planned lists of individuals who will be invited for vaccination at the end of the day to use any balance remaining in a multi-dose vial and further minimise wastage.

Those who have been inoculated can expect to have greater flexibility when it comes to Covid-19 control measures, the multi-ministry task force tackling the coronavirus announced earlier.

It will be easy and convenient in future for people, including those without smartphones, to show they have been vaccinated against Covid-19, said Dr Janil.

Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said in Parliament yesterday that Singapore is exploring mutual recognition of vaccination certificates - which can be physical or digital, and have to be secure, tamper-proof and verifiable - with several countries and regions, including Australia.

Dr Janil noted that Singapore's supply of vaccines remains limited by the ability of vaccine manufacturers to deliver them, given the high levels of global demand.

"This has resulted in limited booking slots in recent days. I apologise for the inconvenience caused to those who have not been able to book earlier. As more supplies arrive, we will progressively open more slots."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 06, 2021, with the headline 'Covid-19 jabs to be extended to those below 45 from June'. Subscribe