Covid-19 vaccine

SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Tuesday (Nov 28) that the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine will no longer be available under Singapore’s national vaccination programme starting Jan 1, 2024.

The MOH added that the current Novavax vaccine, also known as Nuvaxovid, is based on the original COVID-19 strain and is no longer supplied by the manufacturer. Furthermore, Singapore’s existing vaccine stock will expire on Dec 31. “Eligible individuals who have completed their primary vaccination series and wish to receive the Novavax/Nuvaxovid vaccine to achieve minimum protection or as an additional dose should also do so by Dec 31, with a minimum interval of five months after their last dose,” said the MOH.

After Dec 31, MOH said those individuals could receive the mRNA vaccines — Moderna/Spikevax and Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty — at its Joint Testing and Vaccination Centres, polyclinics and PHPCs. Those who are medically ineligible to receive the mRNA vaccines can choose to receive the Sinovac-CoronaVac vaccine, which is available on the national vaccination programme until Sept 30, 2024, added the MOH. It said they can also choose to take Sinopharm, which continues to be available at private clinics that have applied to use the vaccine under the Special Access Route.

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Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said on Nov 25 that when residents worry about severe side effects such as stroke, cancer, and heart attacks and associate this with vaccinations, this misperception needs to be corrected. “These days when you talk to a resident and tell him or her to take the COVID-19 vaccination at least once a year to keep their ‘antidote’ up, so that if they are ever infected, their risk of severe illness and hospitalisation will be minimised; the reaction, which is quite common now, is that they worry about side effects. The side effects of vaccination are well established – a bit of ache in the arm or slight fever, but that is about it,” said Mr Ong.

“We have been very transparent about the side effects and risks of all vaccinations. In the case of COVID-19 vaccination, the risk of myocarditis, especially amongst younger males, is well established and we have been publishing the results. But even before COVID-19 and vaccination, every day, there are 60 Singaporeans who either suffer a heart attack or stroke, and six more Singaporeans require kidney dialysis.” These diseases are caused by lifestyles over many years, he added, including a diet with too much salt and sugar, smoking and not getting enough exercise. “But when you have so many people suffering from stroke, heart attack, and dialysis every day, after a while, they start associating and blaming it on vaccination,” the Health Minister said.

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Read related: Ong Ye Kung: ‘Misperception’ to associate COVID-19 vaccination with cancer, stroke, heart attack