covid-19 boosters, covid-19 booster, covid-19, ong ye kung, covid-19 singapore

Minister for Health Ong Ye Kung on calculating your vaccination validity, booster recommendations for recovered COVID-19 patients, and more.

Earlier in January (Wednesday, 5 January 2022), Singapore's Multi-Ministry Taskforce announced the country's revised healthcare protocols that took effect in the same week, as well as an upcoming revision to requirements for individuals to maintain their "fully vaccinated" status.

Per the update, effective 14 February (Monday), persons aged 18 years and above who have completed the primary vaccination series of COVID-19 vaccines and are eligible for booster vaccination will be considered as fully vaccinated for 270 days after the last dose in their primary vaccination series.

They should receive their booster vaccination from around five months thereafter as recommended, and no later than 270 days thereafter, to ensure an optimal level of protection. Upon receiving their booster, they will continue to be considered fully vaccinated beyond 270 days. 

In light of this, Minister for Health Ong Ye Kung has shared responses to a series of frequently asked questions (FAQs), as follows:

Q Why do we need a nine-month expiry date after the two doses of mRNA vaccines / three doses of Sinovac/Sinopharm vaccines?

This is because protection will wane over time. This can be restored with a booster dose, which is recommended five months after mRNA vaccines and three months after Dose three for Sinovac/Sinopharm.

Singapore will allow individuals up to 270 days to get a booster, and this policy will take effect from Monday, 14 February 2022.

Q How do I calculate my vaccination validity?

If you got your Dose Two of the mRNA vaccine on 1 June 2021, you would have been eligible for the booster shot around 150 days, or five months later, on 1 Nov 2021.

You will then have to get boosted by 26 February, which is 270 days/ about nine months later, in order to be considered fully vaccinated.

Your "fully vaccinated" status will lapse if you have not taken your booster by 27 February (day 271). 

Q If I have been infected and recovered, what is the recommendation for boosters?

If you have recovered well from infection, without complications, your immune system would have gone through a strong stimulus. 

There can be various combinations of infection with vaccination doses. You may be infected after you have completed two doses, before you started vaccination, or in between the two doses.

As an example shared by the minister, take for instance an mRNA vaccine dose as "V" and infection is "I", then the three combinations are:

  • V+V+I: You got three stimulants, and you are considered boosted.
  • I+V+V : You got three stimulants, and are considered boosted.
  • V+I+V: You are fully vaccinated, but not boosted.

This is because the timing between two doses is three to four weeks, and to get infected in between, means the first V and the I are too close in timing together, and they are not separate stimulants to your body. You need V+I+V+V to be considered boosted.

As a rule of thumb, the minister added, if you are infected while unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, you need two more doses to be considered boosted.

However, there is no rush to get boosted if you have I+V or V+I+V, as experts say that under these scenarios, the immunity takes longer to wane, beyond nine months. In such cases, individuals will get the green light for booster vaccination differentiated safe management measures until experts advise that it is time to boost. If individuals do want the extra protection, it is safe to get the booster, and the vaccination centres will allow it.

Q Now that we must get a third dose to get our vaccination status extended, does that mean there will be a fourth, fifth, sixth dose?

Israel is the only country so far to administer a fourth dose for people who are not immunocompromised, the minister said.

Thus, he noted that it is "too early to answer that question."

"If we look at an endemic disease like Influenza, people take annual vaccines to protect themselves. This is because the Influenza virus keeps mutating so a new vaccine dose is necessary every year. So whether we need future COVID-19 vaccine doses, depends on how fast the protection from three doses wanes, and whether the virus keeps mutating."

In addition to the above, here are a few more FAQs on the booster dose, that the Ministry of Health has shared on its website:

Q Are there any safety concerns if I had unknowingly recovered from COVID-19 but take the booster dose?

There are no additional safety concerns with taking the booster vaccination if you had unknowingly recovered from a past infection. There is no known evidence that the vaccination of recovered persons causes over-stimulation, autoimmune disorders, or other safety concerns.

Q Does my booster dose have to be of the same brand as my first two doses?

Your booster dose can be of either brand of the mRNA vaccines offered under the National Vaccination Programme.

Q Will individuals below the age of 18 be offered the booster dose?

Persons below the age of 18 years are currently not yet offered to receive a booster dose. MOH and EC19V will continue to monitor data on this and update the recommendations for this group of persons as necessary

Q What is the dosage used for booster vaccination?

The dosages for booster vaccination by vaccine types are:

  • 50 mcg for the Moderna vaccine
  • 30 mcg for the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty vaccine

The booster dosage of the Moderna vaccine is less than the 100 mcg used for the first two doses. This is because data has shown that a 50 mcg dose effectively boosts the immune protection against COVID-19. If you have received a 100 mcg dose for your booster vaccination, there are no safety concerns in having done so.

The booster dosage of the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty vaccine is the same as that used for the first two doses.

ALSO READ: 4 milestone dates in Singapore's approach to tackling Omicron (Jan-Feb 2022)

Photo / Minister Ong Ye Kung's Facebook

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