SINGAPORE: In response to the increasing demand for updated COVID-19 vaccines, Singapore has announced an extension of the operating hours for all Joint Testing and Vaccination Centres on Saturdays, running from November 4 to December 2. The move comes after the COVID-19 vaccine advisory, now encouraging individuals aged six months and above to receive an additional dose in either 2023 or 2024, as reported by CNA.
Previously, the recommendation was limited to individuals aged 60 and above, residents of aged care facilities, and those who were medically vulnerable, who were advised to receive a one-year booster dose.
The Expert Committee on COVID-19 Vaccination (EC19V) has broadened the scope, urging all individuals aged six months and above to consider the additional dose for 2023/2024, with particular emphasis on healthcare workers and household members or caregivers of medically vulnerable individuals. Eligible individuals may receive the additional dose approximately a year after their last shot, with a minimum interval of five months.
The committee stresses the importance of keeping one’s COVID-19 vaccination status up-to-date and in line with the current recommendations.
This update in vaccine recommendations coincides with the approval of updated COVID-19 vaccines by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. The Health Ministry will begin the phased rollout of these new doses on October 30. These updated formulations are specifically designed to target the newer variants of COVID-19 and are expected to replace all existing vaccines by November 20.
Pfizer-BioNTech’s updated monovalent vaccine, known as Comirnaty, is formulated to combat the Omicron XBB.1.5 sublineage, including EG.5 or Eris and BA.2.86. Starting from October 30, individuals aged five years and above can receive the updated Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty monovalent vaccine, while children aged six months to four years will have access to it from November 20.
Similarly, the updated Moderna/Spikevax monovalent vaccine, designed to target newer variants, will be available for individuals aged six months and above starting from November 14.
In anticipation of the heightened demand for these updated vaccines, the operating hours for all Joint Testing and Vaccination Centres will be extended on Saturdays from November 4 to December 2. On these specific Saturdays, the Centres will be open from 9 am to 7 pm, extending beyond their usual closing time of 1 pm. The Ministry of Health (MOH) has advised the public to expect longer waiting times on Fridays and Saturdays during this period.
The MOH also noted that, as of September 30, the reporting rates of adverse reactions and serious adverse reactions for the mRNA vaccines (both monovalent and bivalent versions) remained rare, with rates of 0.10 percent and 0.007 percent, respectively. The incidence of myocarditis was also rare, with reporting rates of 1.0 per 100,000 doses (0.001 percent) for the monovalent vaccines and 0.4 per 100,000 doses (0.0004 percent) for the bivalent vaccines.
The MOH reiterated that vaccination remains the primary defense against COVID-19 and continues to be safe and effective. They urged all eligible individuals to stay current with their vaccinations.
For specific information regarding the operating hours of the Joint Testing and Vaccination Centres, individuals can refer to the official resources provided by the MOH here.
The post appeared first on The Independent News.