You’ve probably heard the news that Singapore has updated its COVID-19 vaccine recommendations, and people are now encouraged to get an additional dose this year or next year.
After battling with COVID-19 for the last three years, updated vaccines will also soon be rolled out to give better protection against COVID-19 targeting the new variant.
Here’s a summary of everything you need to know about the new COVID-19 vaccine advisory in Singapore.
Singaporeans Aged Six Months and Older Are Encouraged to Receive an Additional Dose
Singapore has recently updated its COVID-19 vaccine guidelines.
It will extend the eligibility for an additional dose to individuals aged six months and older in 2023 or 2024.
This differs from the previous recommendation, which limits booster shots to those aged 60 and above, residents of aged care facilities, and individuals with underlying medical conditions.
According to a statement from the Ministry of Health (MOH), the additional vaccine dose is now advised primarily for individuals at the highest risk of severe illness, encompassing those aged 60 years and older, individuals with underlying medical vulnerabilities, and residents of aged care facilities.
“Beyond this group, the EC19V (Expert Committee on COVID-19 Vaccination) encourages all individuals aged six months and above to also receive the additional dose for 2023/2024, particularly for healthcare workers and household members/caregivers of medically vulnerable individuals,” the MOH said.
Those eligible can consider getting the supplementary dose approximately one year after their last shot, with a minimum interval of no less than five months.
Updated Pfizer-Biontech and Moderna Vaccines to Be Rolled Out from 30 Oct
MOH has also announced that it will introduce the updated COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna starting on 30 October.
These updated formulations, specifically engineered to combat emerging variants of COVID-19, are slated to fully replace the existing vaccines by 20 November.
The newly improved monovalent Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty vaccine, for example, is designed to specifically target the Omicron XBB.1.5 sublineage, encompassing variants like EG.5 (Eris) and BA.2.86.
Starting on 30 October, individuals aged five years and older who want to receive the enhanced Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty monovalent vaccine can do so.
Subsequently, from 20 November, this vaccine will also become accessible to children aged six months to four years.
The enhanced Moderna/Spikevax monovalent vaccine, designed to address newer variants, will be available for individuals aged six months and older beginning on 14 November.
The distribution of the enhanced monovalent vaccines is scheduled as follows, depending on the anticipated arrival of shipments:
30 October: Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty for all individuals aged five years and above.14 November: Moderna/Spikevax for all individuals aged six months and above.20 November: Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty for children aged six months to four years.
Updated Vaccines Will Be Free
Yes, you heard it.
The good news is that these updated vaccines will continue to be free through the National Vaccination Programme, extending the benefit to all Singaporean citizens, permanent residents, long-term pass holders, and specific short-term pass holders.
Moreover, they are anticipated to maintain the same level of safety as the previous versions.
As of 20 November, the enhanced vaccines will replace all other versions of Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty and Moderna/Spikevax currently in use.
Individuals seeking vaccination can get vaccinated at any Joint Testing and Vaccination Centre (JTVC), Public Health Preparedness Clinic (PHPC), or polyclinic offering these vaccines.
Extended Operating Hours at Vaccination Centres
With increased demand for the updated vaccines, Joint Testing and Vaccination Centres will extend their operating hours on Saturdays from 4 November to 2 December.
During this period, the centres will operate from 9am to 7pm, extending beyond their usual closing time of 1pm.
However, MOH said that people should be aware that longer wait times can be expected on both Fridays and Saturdays.
The ministry further noted that as of 30 September, the rates of reported adverse reactions and severe adverse reactions for both monovalent and bivalent mRNA vaccines remained exceptionally low, at 0.10% and 0.007%, respectively.
Additionally, myocarditis was found to be exceedingly rare, with reporting rates of 1.0 per 100,000 doses (0.001%) for monovalent vaccines and 0.4 per 100,000 doses (0.0004%) for bivalent vaccines.
“Protection from vaccination will wane over time. We therefore encourage all individuals to keep up to date with their vaccination once eligible,” the MOH said.