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MOH to set up calculator to help public check when to take COVID-19 booster shots

Yahoo News logo Yahoo News 29/1/2022 Staff Writer, Singapore

SINGAPORE — With the 14 February deadline drawing nearer for Singapore residents to receive their COVID-19 booster shots and extend their full vaccination status, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said it is working a calculator on its official website to help the public determine by when they would need to take their booster shots.

The ministry added in a media release on Saturday (29 January) that individuals who have been infected with COVID-19 after their initial vaccination series can still proceed to receive their booster shots, and will not be turned away at vaccination centres.

MOH had announced earlier this month that, for individuals aged 18 years and above, their full vaccination status after two doses of mRNA vaccines or three doses of Sinovac/Sinopharm vaccines will lapse after 270 days, or nine months.

This policy will come into effect from 14 February, meaning those who did not get a booster shot within 270 days of their primary vaccine series by then will not be considered fully vaccinated, and may be barred from events, restaurants or public areas.

MOH said that once a person gets his booster shot, there is currently no expiry on the period of validity of his fully-vaccinated status.

Those infected after primary vaccination can still take booster shot

Regarding the question on whether those who have been infected with COVID-19 after their primary vaccination series should still receive their booster dose, MOH said the default position is yes.

"With Omicron being a less severe disease, people are getting mild symptoms with lower viral loads. A booster dose will confer longer protection into the future," it said in the media release.

"As recommended by the Expert Committee on COVID-19 Vaccination, it is safe for persons who have recovered from COVID-19 to receive a booster dose. Our vaccination centres have been instructed to administer the booster dose to you and you will not be turned away."

MOH clarified that this does not apply to individuals who were discovered to be COVID-19 positive after taking an antigen rapid test (ART) self-test, or during rostered routine testing or pre-event Testing.

"These individuals will typically undergo self-isolation under Protocol 2, recover and then resume normal activities. There is therefore no record of their infection in our medical records. If so, you will need to receive your booster dose," the ministry said.

For those who have seen a doctor when COVID-infected - such that a record of the infection is in the HealthHub medical records - they can choose not to take the booster dose if they prefer not to.

"The infection episode can be considered as your booster dose. The update of your status is automatic, and no action is required on your part," MOH said.

Ministry advises against taking serology tests to exempt from booster

MOH said its calculator will serve to answer queries on the need for boosters after various permutations of mRNA vaccine doses, Sinovac/Sinopharm vaccine doses, and infections. These answers are "complicated and depend on the order and timing between these occurrences", said the ministry.

"A simple rule of thumb is: two doses of an mRNA vaccine or three doses of Sinovac/Sinopharm confer full vaccination status for 270 days. A booster or an infection recorded in our medical records after that will extend the validity," it added.

MOH also advises individuals against taking serology tests to exempt themselves from a booster dose, as they are not a strong indication of resilience against severe illness caused by the COVID-19 virus.

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