SINGAPORE - Singapore will accelerate its national vaccination programme from Saturday (June 26) and administer up to 80,000 vaccine doses daily, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung on Thursday.
About 47,000 doses are given out daily today. The ramp-up is due to the delivery of vaccine supplies being brought forward, allowing the Republic to set a new target of having two-thirds of the population fully vaccinated by National Day.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) expects to add another 500,000 slots in the next few days for people making their first dose appointments from now till mid-July.
If supplies continue to arrive as planned, most of the population who are willing to take the vaccine will have received their first dose by the second half of July, said Mr Ong.
Once this target has been met, MOH will then review the current interval between doses of six to eight weeks and reduce it to four weeks, he added at a virtual press conference.
The authorities had lengthened the interval between doses to prioritise giving out the first dose and accord some protection to as many in the population as possible.
"Once you achieve that, it will not make sense to have people continue to wait six to eight weeks until August or beyond for the second doses," said Mr Ong, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19.
He said this shortening of the interval means people will, at some point, be invited to rebook and select an earlier date to get a second dose.
This will allow more to complete their vaccination with two doses and receive maximum protection sooner, said MOH. More details will be announced when ready.
To allow more time for Singapore citizens aged 12 to 39 to make their vaccination appointments, the two-week priority window for this group will be extended by one week, till July 1.
Those who have vaccination appointments for their first dose in mid to end-July are also encouraged to bring forward their appointments so that they can protect themselves and their loved ones sooner, said MOH.
Those who are eligible for the jab and have registered for vaccination, but have not yet received a booking link can expect to receive an SMS with a personalised booking link to make an appointment within the next week.
From July 2, the vaccination programme will be extended to the rest of the population, including all permanent residents and long-term pass holders in Singapore aged 12 to 39.
They can register interest for vaccination and will be progressively invited to book their vaccination appointments from July 2 via SMS, with a personalised booking link sent to their mobile number.
As at June 23, more than three million people have received at least one dose of the vaccine, which translates to 53 per cent of the local population having at least one dose, said Mr Ong.
About 36 per cent of the population have been fully vaccinated with two doses, he added.
While some 75 per cent of seniors aged 60 and above have received at least one dose or have booked an appointment for vaccination, this is not enough, Mr Ong said, urging more seniors to get their jabs to protect themselves from the coronavirus.
For other age groups, 77 per cent of those aged 45 to 59 have received at least one dose of the vaccine or booked appointments. The figure is 70 per cent for those aged 40 to 44 and 39 per cent for those aged 12 to 39.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had earlier announced in May that Singapore's target is to get two-thirds of the population vaccinated with at least the first dose by early July, with everyone who is eligible for vaccinations to get their first dose by National Day.
With Singapore's accelerated vaccination programme, Mr Ong said this target can be raised to have two-thirds of the population fully vaccinated around National Day.
"This is an ambitious target, but achievable," the minister said, even as he stressed it is an interim milestone as Singapore will need to get more people fully vaccinated beyond two-thirds of the population.
As Singapore vaccinates more people and at a faster pace, the task force will be drawing up a road map to transit the country towards a future where Covid-19 is endemic, he added.
"But we are very mindful - this is a shape-shifting enemy, and it will continue to throw us surprises and curveballs... But we are determined to see through this endgame."
In a Facebook post on Thursday, PM Lee said that vaccination is a crucial strategy for Singapore to live with endemic Covid-19, which can be managed just like the common flu.
He added that once more people are vaccinated, Singapore can ease Covid-19 restrictions and open up further.
"Having secured more vaccine supplies, we are speeding up the pace of vaccinations substantially. Please get your jabs as soon as possible, to protect yourself and your loved ones," he said.
"Let’s all play our part, so that come 9 August, we can hit that target and celebrate our nation’s birthday with pride and joy."