SINGAPORE - The Republic's vaccination programme will now be expanded to those aged 45 to 59, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong in a press conference on Wednesday (March 24).
They can register their interest for vaccination on this website, although letters will not be sent to them, as they are more familiar with the use of digital technology, said the Ministry of Health (MOH).
Mr Gan, who is co-chair of the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19, said that with vaccination for the prioritised groups well under way, the programme is now ready to be expanded to younger age groups in the population from Wednesday.
"We seek everyone's patience and support as we expand our vaccination efforts steadily," he said.
He added: "I would also like to apologise for any hiccups or inconvenience to our residents during this initial stages as we work to iron out some of the teething problems."
On average, around 40,000 doses of the vaccine were administered each day last week, including second doses, said Mr Gan.
If vaccine supplies continue to arrive on schedule, there will be enough for all Singaporeans and long-term residents by the third quarter of this year, he said, adding that it would mean Singapore could complete its vaccination programme by the end of this year.
A key factor in how fast Singapore's population can be vaccinated is the supply of vaccines, said Mr Gan.
"We will continue to monitor our supplies closely, but we expect global supplies to remain tight and supply chains may be disrupted from time to time, which will affect our pace of vaccination."
After registering on the website, those aged 45 to 59 will receive an SMS with a personalised URL enabling them to book their vaccination appointments online.
MOH added: "We will send out the SMSes to the registrants as soon as there are vacant slots available for booking. This should happen within a few days of registration, but we seek everyone's understanding that the timing may vary and it may take longer, in particular if there is a delay in the vaccine delivery schedule."
MOH also cautioned users not to trust any other URLs that are not from a gov.sg domain.
It reiterated that the Covid-19 vaccination is free for all Singaporeans and long-term residents in Singapore, and payment is not required to register for an appointment. After receiving the SMS, individuals will be given 14 days to schedule an appointment, said MOH.
MOH also gave an update on Wednesday on the number of people vaccinated in Singapore so far. As at Tuesday, about 1,109,000 vaccine doses have been administered.
More than 799,000 people have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Among them, around 310,000 have received their second doses and completed the full vaccination regimen.
The ministry said that since Feb 22, good progress had been made in vaccinating seniors, starting first with those aged 70 years and older.
Vaccination of seniors aged 60 to 69 had also been brought forward by two weeks to the middle of March, with more regular deliveries of vaccine supplies.
More than 55 per cent of seniors have received their vaccination or made appointments to do so, said the ministry.
"We encourage seniors who have not yet done so to come forward to register for their vaccination as soon as possible," said MOH, adding that seniors can also book their appointments for vaccination at any of the People's Association's community clubs and centres islandwide.
There are currently 31 vaccination centres that are up and running, said Mr Gan. This is on top of the 20 polyclinics and 22 Public Health Preparedness Clinics (PHPCs) private clinics that are also in operation.
PHPCs are general practitioner clinics which provide subsidised treatment for those with respiratory symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat and runny nose.
By about the middle of April, there will be a total of 40 vaccination centres islandwide, he added.