SINGAPORE — While an individual's "fully vaccinated" status officially lasts for a year, this timeframe will be reviewed in time as more data on the efficacy of vaccines and boosters becomes available, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Thursday (10 November).
The ministry's deputy director of medical services Derrick Heng noted that authorities had initially specified an interim duration of 365 days in the Infectious Diseases (Mass Gathering Testing for Coronavirus Disease 2019) Regulations 2021.
For this period, fully-vaccinated individuals are exempt from COVID-19 curbs that bar the unvaccinated from, among others, entry to shopping malls, cinemas and many food-and-beverages establishments.
Pointing out that there will be "waning protection" from the vaccines, Dr Heng said that the ministry continues to review data from ongoing studies. "As more data becomes available, including on the increase in protection provided by booster doses, the Expert Committee on COVID-19 Vaccination will study the evidence and make its recommendations, and the Ministry of Health will review the stipulated timeframe."
The MOH official was responding to a letter to the Forum page of The Straits Times, published on the same day, which pointed out that a person's fully-vaccinated status officially expires 365 plus 14 days after the second vaccine dose.
Asking for clarity on the matter, writer Lynn Tan noted that there was an opportunity for MOH to do so in response to a parliamentary question on 4 October on whether the definition of "fully vaccinated" will be changed. The issue has "major implications" for all Singapore residents, said Tan, given the imposition of vaccination-differentiated measures.
"Does the government intend for all Singapore residents to take booster shots to be considered fully vaccinated? And when the efficacy of the booster jabs diminishes, will we be required to take yet another booster?"
On Monday, the multi-ministry task force on COVID-19 (MTF) announced that from 8 December, COVID-19 patients who are unvaccinated by choice must pay for their bills incurred at hospitals and COVID treatment facilities.
In response to media queries, MOH revealed that COVID patients who need both care in intensive care units and therapeutics in hospitals may have to pay about $25,000, according to a median estimate released by the ministry.
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