The Ministry of Health (MOH) will replace all existing formulations of Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty and Moderna/Spikevax vaccines with updated Covid-19 monovalent vaccines by Nov. 20, 2023.
The updated vaccines will be rolled out progressively from Oct. 30, The Straits Times reported, citing MOH on Oct. 28.
The ministry's announcement comes after it accepted the latest updated recommendations of the Expert Committee on Covid-19 Vaccination (EC19V).
According to the committee, the updated Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty and Moderna/Spikevax Covid-19 vaccines can provide "a stronger immune response" against current and emerging strains compared to older versions of the vaccines, thereby possibly conferring better protection against the disease.
Roll-out dates for updated vaccines
Based on the expected arrival date of the shipments, the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty for individuals aged five years and above will be made available on Oct. 30.
The updated Moderna/Spikevax for individuals aged six months and above will be rolled out on Nov. 14.
Finally, the updated Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty for children aged six months to four years will be made available on Nov. 20.
Expert committee's recommendations
According to EC19V, individuals should receive an additional dose in 2023 or 2024, around one year and no earlier than five months after their last vaccine dose.
Those at greatest risk of severe disease, such as individuals aged 60 years and above, medically vulnerable individuals, and residents of aged care facilities, are recommended to receive the additional dose, added MOH.
EC19V also encourages healthcare workers and household members/caregivers of medically vulnerable individuals to receive an additional dose for 2023/2024.
Vaccination continues to be "safe and effective": MOH
According to EC19V, the safety profiles of the updated vaccines are expected to be comparable to those of previous versions.
Based on data from the Health Sciences Authority, as of Sep. 30, 2023, the reporting rate of adverse events for the mRNA vaccines (monovalent and bivalent versions) was 0.10 per cent while that of serious adverse events was 0.007 per cent, said MOH.
The incidence of myocarditis also remained "rare," with reporting rates of 1.0 per 100,000 doses, or 0.001 per cent, for the monovalent vaccines and 0.4 per 100,000 doses (0.0004 per cent) for the bivalent vaccines.
As protection from vaccination will wane over time, MOH encourages all individuals to keep up to date with their vaccination once eligible, added the ministry.
Where to get vaccinated
If you are thinking of getting vaccinated, you can do so by walking into any Joint Testing and Vaccination Centre (JTVC), Public Health Preparedness Clinic (PHPC), or polyclinic offering the vaccine.
You can find your nearest vaccination site and the types of vaccines offered at each site here.
If you would like to schedule an appointment for your vaccination, you can do so here or call the clinic directly.
MOH to extend operating hours of JTVCs on Saturdays
In anticipation of higher demand for the updated vaccines, MOH will extend the operating hours of all JTVCs on Saturdays from 9am to 7pm from Nov. 4 to Dec. 2, 2023.
The usual opening hours for JTVCs are 9am to 1pm.
A longer waiting period should be expected on Fridays and Saturdays, according to MOH.
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