Singapore has decided to extend the gap between two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to 6-8 weeks from the current 3-4 weeks. Additionally the government has announced that those aged between 40-44 years can register for their vaccination starting today.
As per a release from the Ministry of Health (MoH), Singapore has administered more than 3.4 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine as of May 17. Close to 2 million individuals have received at least the first dose of the vaccine, of whom over 1.4 million individuals have received their second dose as well, said MoH.
About 71% of eligible seniors aged 60 and above, and close to 66% of eligible persons aged 45 to 59 have received the COVID-19 vaccination or booked their vaccination appointments.
MoH also announced that the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) has authorised the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for those aged 12 to 15 years.
Vaccination for 40-44 year olds
MoH will be inviting those aged 40 to 44 years to register for their vaccinations from Wednesday, May 19.
“Our supply of vaccines has been steadily coming in, but remains limited given high global demand. We will continue to roll out our vaccination programme, but now in five-year age bands, starting with those aged 40 to 44 years, and progressively moving to younger age bands,” MoH said in a release.
Extension of the vaccine dosing interval
MoH has said that it will prioritise first doses of the vaccines for more people, and speed up the vaccination programme in order to protect more Singaporeans.
“Given our finite vaccine supplies, we have decided to extend the interval between the first and second vaccine doses, from three or four weeks, to six to eight weeks. This will apply to vaccination registrations that occur from Wednesday, 19 May 2021,” said the MoH release.
Those who already have appointments for their second doses will not be affected.
The decision to increase the gap between two doses was taken in consultation with the Expert Committee on COVID-19 Vaccination which had studied scientific evidence globally in clinical trials and real-world roll-out of the vaccines.
The Committee is of the view that the maximum interval between mRNA COVID-19 vaccines could be extended to up to eight weeks to maximise vaccine coverage, without materially impacting the eventual overall immune response, as long as the second dose is eventually administered.
“Lengthening the interval to between six to eight weeks will enable us to cover more people with the first dose of the vaccine more quickly, who will then have some protection. This will help protect more Singaporeans and optimise our vaccine supply,” said MoH.