People wearing face masks as a preventive measure against the spread of Covid-19 in Singapore.
Maverick Asio | SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images
SINGAPORE — Singapore will expand its Covid vaccination program to all residents 12 and older starting early next month.
The government said Thursday that some permanent residents and long-term pass holders can begin booking appointments on July 2.
Since June 11, citizens between the ages of 12 and 39 had a priority window to book vaccinations. Singaporeans were originally given a two-week window, but the Ministry of Health said that period will be extended by one week.
Authorities approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children 12 to 15 years old in mid-May.
The Southeast Asian country has one of the fastest vaccination rollouts in Asia-Pacific, but lags many countries in the West.
The health ministry said around 3 million people have received at least one dose of the Covid vaccine so far, of whom 2 million have been fully vaccinated. Singapore’s population is around 5.8 million people.
Singapore will be ramping up its inoculation campaign, increasing daily doses to 80,000, up from 40,000 in May, authorities said.
The country previously extended the duration between first and second doses in order to allow more people to receive their first shot. But as the country speeds up its rollout, officials said some people who have already booked appointments will be able to receive their second shots sooner.
Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said Singapore aims to have two-thirds of its population fully vaccinated by August 9, the country’s National Day.
Ong added that the country has signed an advanced purchase agreement with biotech firm Novavax. Last week, the company said its vaccine candidate was 90.4% effective overall in a phase three clinical trial.
“We hope the vaccine supplies can arrive before the end of the year for those who want to take something that is not mRNA,” he said. “But in the meantime, please continue to consider mRNA vaccines. They work very well.”
Restrictions could potentially be loosened for fully vaccinated people
Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs Singapore’s Covid taskforce, also said authorities are discussing revising public health guidelines for people who are fully vaccinated.
“We could allow gatherings involving just vaccinated persons to have larger group sizes, and also relax the social distancing rules in such settings,” he said during a press conference, adding that this could apply to religious services, concerts and sporting events.
Wong added that the government is working on new guidelines for people in Singapore to be able to travel. For example, stay-home notices or hotel quarantines may be waived or shortened for vaccinated people, depending on the country they are returning from, he said.
“These are the, potentially, revised guidelines that will apply to vaccinated persons. We are still working through them and we will announce them when we are ready,” he said.
As of Thursday, Singapore has reported 62,493 cases of Covid-19 infections and 35 deaths.