SINGAPORE - From next Monday, eligible people aged 18 to 49 will be invited to get their bivalent vaccine booster shot against Covid-19.
Those in their 40s will be invited to register for the bivalent vaccine dose first through an SMS with a personalised booking link to make an appointment at one of the joint testing and vaccination centres, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) in a statement on Friday.
The lower-age groups will receive their booking links slightly later.
Those aged between 18 and 49 are the latest group to be invited to take the bivalent vaccine amid the ongoing infection surge driven by the Omicron XBB variant.
MOH added the current wave is subsiding. It cautioned that there are now multiple subvariants circulating globally and new variants may also form.
With travel resuming, a new highly transmissible variant can enter and spread in Singapore without much advance warning, it added.
“It is now even more important that we shore up our defences ahead of any future evolution of the Covid-19 virus, and prepare in advance to respond quickly should the need arise.
“We seek your patience and understanding that the SMS may take a couple of weeks to reach everyone,” said the ministry.
The bivalent version of the Moderna/Spikevax vaccine targets the original strain of the Sars-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19 and the Omicron variant.
With the expansion of the bivalent vaccine to younger age groups, all those aged 18 and above are reminded to keep up to date with their vaccinations.
This means that those who had their last shots between five months and a year ago should take the additional bivalent dose.
This would be their fourth or fifth Covid-19 jab, depending on the vaccines they chose.
The minimum protection for those who took the mRNA or Nuvaxovid vaccine should be three doses, and four for those who opted for Sinovac-CoronaVac.
MOH outlined three lines of defence against the virus – keeping up to date with vaccinations, regular self-testing and practising personal and social responsibility by maintaining personal hygiene.
As reinfections become more common now, people who have symptoms such as cough, sore throat, runny nose or fever 28 days after their previous infection are also urged to test themselves for Covid-19.
To encourage more self-testing, each household will receive 12 antigen rapid test (ART) kits from Nov 21, in a fourth round of national ART kit distributions.
“As it is the peak holiday season and there is a high volume of ART kits being delivered, we seek the public’s understanding that some households may receive kits later than others,” MOH said.
In addition, those who test negative but feel unwell are urged to reduce social interactions because their illness may be due to other respiratory viruses such as influenza.
For those aged 12 and above, Pfizer-BioNTech’s bivalent Covid-19 vaccine was approved for use locally in October.
In an update on Friday, MOH said supplies of those vaccines are expected to arrive towards the end of the year.
More details will be shared later.
As at Wednesday, more than 65,000 individuals – comprising healthcare workers and those aged 50 and above – have received the bivalent vaccine dose, or have booked an appointment, added the ministry.
The bivalent dose has been offered to those aged 50 and above since October.
To prevent overcrowding at vaccination centres, walk-ins are allowed for only the older groups and healthcare workers.
Those who have received three doses of Sinovac-CoronaVac are also urged to take their fourth vaccine dose, which acts as a booster, if they have not yet done so.
Since Oct 7, those aged 18 and above can take the fourth dose without the need for proof of medical ineligibility to the mRNA or Novavax/Nuvaxovid vaccines.
Help will also be given to lower-income households and students who need more ART kits.
Beneficiaries of the social service offices and family service centres may continue to request additional ART kits at these centres and offices.
Students from lower-income households will also be given additional ART kits. More information will be shared with students and parents at a later date, said MOH.
“As new variants of Covid-19 continue to emerge, we urge those who are eligible to take the bivalent vaccine as an additional vaccine dose, to ensure they continue to have good protection against Covid-19,” said MOH.