S'pore to consider giving as many people as possible first dose of Covid-19 vaccine: Ong Ye Kung

The country is moving to Phase 2 of its vaccination exercise, he said.

Kayla Wong | May 16, 2021, 08:18 PM

As Singapore approaches Phase 2 of its nationwide vaccination exercise, the government is considering giving "as many people as possible" one dose of Covid-19 vaccine first, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said on Sunday evening, May 16, at a press conference.

Such a plan offers "a good level of protection against Covid-19" without "reducing the effectiveness", Ong said, citing "many international studies" that points to this conclusion.

MOH considering to extend duration between first and second doses

Ong added that the duration between the first and second vaccine doses might be extended as well. He said:

"Our scientists have been studying this, we have an expert committee, and the evidence, locally and overseas, point towards this, that epidemiologists have also expressed, that it is reasonable for those two (doses) to actually be further apart.”

He continued:

"So instead of 21, or 28 days or three days, or three weeks or four weeks, which is the case currently, we can possibly extend to six to eight weeks without materially impacting the efficacy of the vaccine."

Ong further said this will be "helpful", given the rise in local transmission recently.

"This is a strategy for Phase two of our vaccination exercise, moving forward," he said.

He added that once they complete their study and finalise the details, they will announce the details as to how they plan to go about executing the plan.

The minister also reassured those who already have their appointment for the second dose of vaccine, saying these appointments will not be affected.

Singapore moving to Phase 2 of vaccination exercise

In addition, Ong explained that the first phase of vaccination exercise in Singapore focused on "those who need it the most", including the vulnerable population, as well as those on the frontline, such as those working in hospitals, seaports, airports, and schools.

Two doses have given them "maximum protection" against Covid-19 infection, he said.

He added that "progress has been good", saying one quarter of the population today are fully vaccinated with two doses, while one-third has at least one dose.

Ong also gave the example of Israel, where the government has vaccinated "a big proportion of their population", and where all three benefits of vaccination can be seen.

Ong highlighted the three things that vaccination does:

  1. Provides a shield against infection of the Covid-19 virus
  2. Bringing down the severity of the disease even if the virus broke through the vaccination
  3. Reducing the likelihood of the vaccinated person to transmit the virus to another person

Top image adapted via Ong Ye Kung/Facebook & Unsplash