Seniors to be invited to register for Covid-19 booster shots from Sept 14

Seniors who have completed their two-dose regimen at least six months ago will be invited to receive their booster dose of an mRNA vaccine. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Singapore's Covid-19 vaccine booster shot programme will begin next Tuesday (Sept 14).

This is for seniors aged 60 years and above, as well as residents of aged-care facilities, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Friday. Those who are moderately to severely immunocompromised are also included, added the ministry, which announced the programme on Sept 3.

Seniors who have completed their two-dose vaccination regimen at least six months ago will be invited to receive their booster dose of an mRNA vaccine with SMSes sent to their mobile numbers that they had registered with earlier, said MOH in its statement.

They can then book a new appointment at this website. Eligible residents of aged-care facilities can also expect to receive their booster dose in the coming weeks, said MOH.

At a virtual press conference by the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19 on Friday, Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong urged those eligible for booster shots to sign up for them when they receive the notification to do so.

The Expert Committee on Covid-19 Vaccination had last week recommended that seniors should receive their booster shots six to nine months after completing their two-dose vaccination regimen.

The committee had said that seniors may develop a lower immune response to the initial two doses of vaccines, and immunity has also been observed to decline over time.

A booster dose is meant to increase the level of immunity and ensure that a high level of protection from severe disease is maintained across a longer period, it added.

As for immunocompromised people, they are encouraged to receive a third dose of any mRNA vaccine two months after their second dose, said MOH on Friday.

"However, they should consult their treating specialist, who would have the best understanding of their medical condition, prior to receiving their third dose," MOH said.

Immunocompromised people who are eligible may receive the vaccination in a hospital or a specialist outpatient clinic of their treating specialist.

They may also obtain a referral form by their doctor, and go to any vaccination centre for their third dose, MOH added.

This group includes transplant patients on medications that suppress the immune system, cancer patients on active treatment with chemotherapy, and people who have advanced or untreated HIV.

The expert committee had said evidence has shown that people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised have a blunted immune response to the two-dose Covid-19 vaccination.

A third dose increases the likelihood that these people develop a robust protective immune response, it had said.

Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, co-chair of a multi-ministry task force on Covid-19, had said on Monday that the possibility of giving vaccine boosters to younger adults was being studied.

Other countries, such as Israel, United States, Britain, France and Germany have either began or announced booster campaigns.

Meanwhile, about 1.5 per cent of Singapore's population have taken the Sinovac vaccine offered by private clinics, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung during the press conference on Friday.

His ministry has facilitated the ordering of new stock, which should arrive around Sept 20 and become available at clinics a few days after that, he said.

Private clinics have suspended vaccination as their stock has been depleted, he noted. MOH has also been administering the Sinovac vaccine to those who are allergic to the mRNA vaccine.

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