Singapore mulls over continuing to offer free Covid-19 jabs under Healthier SG: Ong Ye Kung

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said there are no plans to charge people here for shots. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Although the Republic is moving towards a new Covid-19 vaccination strategy, there are no plans to charge people here for shots, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said on Monday.

Speaking in an interview with Mediacorp's Love 97.2FM, Mr Ong said the authorities are considering placing Covid-19 jabs under the Healthier SG initiative, which will provide people with some free vaccinations, among other benefits.

Mr Ong noted that under the plan - which is expected to kick in from the second half of 2023 - people would not be charged for influenza jabs as they are considered preventative.

"So I think we should also consider whether to get the coronavirus vaccine within this framework," he said.

The Health Ministry said on Oct 7 that Singapore is transitioning to a new strategy of up-to-date vaccination, instead of counting the number of shots and boosters individuals receive.

This is similar to the existing periodic vaccinations against influenza, the ministry said then.

On Monday, the minister also spoke on the bivalent vaccines - which target both the original Sars-CoV-2 strain as well as the Omicron BA.1 variant - describing them as an updated "two-in-one" formula.

MOH said earlier in October that Moderna's original Spikevax vaccine will be replaced by its updated bivalent version from Oct 17, and this will be used for all adults aged 18 and above.

Mr Ong reiterated that the number of boosters one gets is no longer important. People should get at least three doses of an mRNA vaccine in order to get basic protection against Covid-19, which should be followed by a dose of the bivalent vaccine every five to 12 months, he added.

From Oct 17, people aged 50 and above, as well as those who are not fully vaccinated, can go to any of the nine joint testing and vaccination centres providing the Moderna vaccine to receive its bivalent equivalent.

Pfizer's Comirnaty bivalent vaccine is being evaluated and is expected to be available by the end of this year.

The Health Minister also encouraged those eligible to get their jabs ahead of the winter season in the Northern Hemisphere, when new strains of Covid-19 are expected to emerge.

Singapore lifted its remaining vaccination-differentiated safe management measures on Monday.

As such, Covid-19 vaccinations are no longer required for events with more than 500 participants, nightlife establishments with dancing, and dining at eateries.

Mr Ong on Sunday appealed to people above 50 to keep up to date with Covid-19 vaccine shots as such restrictions were lifted.

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