Boosters needed for extension of full vaccination status as Covid-19 variants emerge

The new measures will take effect from Jan 1, 2022. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - With new Covid-19 variants such as Omicron surfacing, full vaccination will have to include booster shots as well.

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung announced on Tuesday (Dec 14) that for those who have taken two doses of the mRNA vaccines, or three doses of the Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines, their full vaccination status will lapse unless a booster shot is taken. 

The Ministry of Health (MOH) is consulting the Expert Committee on Covid-19 Vaccination to determine how long this period will be.

Said Mr Ong: “With waning protection, full vaccination status cannot last perpetually. So take our boosters, and our full vaccination status will be extended, and we will be able to access various amenities under (vaccination-differentiated measures).”

The new policy on changes to the fully vaccinated status will be announced by the end of this year or early next year, he added.

“But please be assured we will design the policy such that if you have not been given a chance to get your booster, your full vaccination status will not lapse.

“Similarly, if you belong to a group not eligible for boosters, such as those below the age of 18, your full vaccination status will also not lapse”, Mr Ong said.

By the end of January next year, 54 per cent of the total population would have received their boosters, he noted.

During the Covid-19 press conference on Tuesday, it was also announced that patients who have recovered from Covid-19 but are not fully vaccinated would be given only 180 days of exemption after infection - down from the current 270 days - to enter places where vaccination-differentiated safe management measures (VDS) are implemented.

This will take effect from Jan 1, 2022, the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19 said.

The calculation of the number of days of exemption will start from the day of the patient’s first positive Sars-CoV-2 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test result obtained in Singapore.

The adjustment had been made due to concerns over the transmissibility and heightened reinfection risk of the Omicron variant, and quicker waning of protection acquired through past infections, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said.

“These recovered persons who are not fully vaccinated should seek to complete their primary series vaccination regime promptly,” MOH said.

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Non-fully vaccinated individuals who recover from Covid-19 infection prior to Jan 1, 2022, will also have their exemption period reduced from 270 days to 180 days.

However, individuals whose 180-day period expires as at Jan 1, 2022, will be granted an additional one-month grace period till Jan 31 to complete their primary series vaccination regime.

Recovered individuals need only one dose of mRNA Covid-19 vaccine (either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) or two doses of Sinovac under the National Vaccination Programme to complete their primary series vaccination regime.

They should do so by Jan 17 to allow an interval of 14 days from the completion of the regimen to be considered fully vaccinated by Jan 31.

During the grace period, these individuals can produce their discharge memo to enter VDS settings.

Read next - Singapore prepares for Omicron wave: What you need to know about new Covid-19 measures

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