SINGAPORE — The new Moderna COVID-19 vaccine that targets the original novel coronavirus strain and the Omicron variant has been recommended for primary series and booster vaccinations in those aged 18 years and above in Singapore, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Friday (7 October).
The recommendation by the Expert Committee on COVID-19 Vaccination issued on the same day comes after the Health Sciences Authority authorised the use of the Moderna Spikevax bivalent vaccine last month.
“This updated vaccine is preferred over the original COVID-19 vaccines, and as such the primary vaccination series for those yet to be vaccinated should also be switched to the new bivalent vaccine where possible,” the committee said.
The vaccine is expected to offer high protection against severe disease across variants and better protection against future variants than current vaccines, according to the committee.
Those who have received their second booster should be offered a booster dose of the bivalent vaccine around five months after their last booster dose when it is available, the committee said. Hence, persons aged 50 and above can receive up to five vaccine shots including the bivalent vaccine.
From 17 October, persons aged 50 and above and those who are yet to achieve minimum protection will be able to receive the bivalent vaccine. The rest of the population will be offered the vaccine as more doses arrive.
The committee also recommends the use of the bivalent vaccine for the primary vaccination series for those aged 18 years and above. Nonetheless, the Pfizer-BioNTech and Novavax/Nuvaxovid vaccines, which target the original COVID-19 strain, will still be available for the time being for those who prefer it.
The bivalent vaccine is not available for persons under 18 years as it has not undergone trials in this age group.
Moderna and Pfizer vaccinations for children
Meanwhile, from 25 October, children aged six months to four years can receive their primary vaccination with Moderna Spikevax vaccine and those aged five to 11 years can receive a booster dose with Pfizer- BioNTech/Comirnaty vaccine, MOH said.
The committee has assessed that the Moderna Spikevax vaccine is beneficial for protection against severe COVID-19 in younger children and offers protection against the Omicron BA.2.75 and BA.2.10 subvariants, and possible future COVID-19 variants.
For children aged five to 11 years, their antibody levels and vaccine protection against COVID-19 hospitalisation decline with time. As such, the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty booster can sustain protection against severe disease, MOH said.
Lifting of vaccination-differentiated SMMs
From Monday, all vaccination-differentiated safe management measures (VDS) will be fully lifted.
With the lifting, VDS will not be required for events with more than 500 participants at any time, nightlife establishments with dancing activity, and dining in at food & beverage establishments including hawker centres.
Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said in a Facebook post on Friday night that Singapore will move towards a new definition of “up-to-date vaccination” instead of counting the number of shots that residents receive.
Those who have received at least the minimum protection of three Pfizer or Moderna or Novavax/Nuvaxovid doses or four Sinovac-CoronaVac jabs are considered up to date with their vaccination. This also applies to persons aged 50 and above who receive an additional dose beyond minimum protection between five months and one year from their last vaccine dose.
“This new up-to-date definition is similar to how we take vaccines for the flu, an endemic disease,” Ong said.
— Yahoo Singapore (@YahooSG) October 7, 2022
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