People 80 and above, those with chronic disease eligible for second booster dose: Ong Ye Kung

Individuals who do not take their fourth dose will still have their "fully vaccinated" status maintained. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Elderly people aged 80 and above, as well as those who have a weakened immune system or have severe chronic disease, will be eligible to receive a second booster dose for better protection against Covid-19.

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said on Thursday (March 24) at a press conference by the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19 that given the emerging international data on the waning of vaccine protection against severe disease over time, it is recommended that these groups of people get a second dose.

Dialling in virtually from the Singapore High Commission in Kuala Lumpur with Singapore’s director of medical services Kenneth Mak, he added that the Expert Committee on Covid-19 Vaccination also noted that a second booster dose can ensure that these groups of people are highly protected even as Singapore resumes its normal activities.

They will receive the second dose around five months after getting their first one.

People who are eligible include those aged 80 and above, those living in aged care facilities such as nursing homes, and those at risk of severe disease as they have weakened immune systems or have severe chronic disease, said Mr Ong.

He added that individuals who do not take their fourth dose will still have their "fully vaccinated" status maintained, though it is "strongly recommended" for them to do so.

Associate Professor Mak said that immunocompromised individuals have already been previously urged to get a third dose of the vaccine as part of their primary series and to undergo a fourth dose as a booster because of their weakened immune system. 

There is no recommendation for this group of people to receive a second booster dose or a fifth dose of the vaccine.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) said more details on how at-risk groups can receive their second booster dose will be announced later.

"Given the characteristics of the dominant variant in Singapore, there are no plans to extend the booster to the rest of the population yet," said Mr Ong.

However, he noted that the pandemic situation remains an evolving one, and MOH will be watching this closely with the expert committee.

Prof Mak added that younger people have better immune responses following vaccination, and that their protection against severe illness has been sustained over time after the third dose of an mRNA vaccine.

Read next: What you need to know about Singapore's latest Covid-19 rules

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