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Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine to be included in Singapore's national vaccination programme


SINGAPORE: The Sinovac-CoronaVac COVID-19 vaccine will be included in Singapore's national vaccination programme, the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced on Saturday (Oct 23).

It has been given interim authorisation under the Pandemic Special Access Route (PSAR).

The Health Ministry noted that while local vaccination rates are high – at more than 90 per cent in eligible age groups - there are some who choose not to take up mRNA vaccines due to "strong personal preferences".

"To ensure that everyone will have reasonably good protection against COVID-19, we will offer the three-dose primary series regime of Sinovac-CoronaVac under the national vaccination programme to those who have not completed their full course of vaccination, including persons who had only received one or two doses of Sinovac-CoronaVac previously," said MOH.

It added that those who are unable to take any dose of the mRNA vaccines due to medical reasons should receive three doses of the Sinovac vaccine.

"Persons who started vaccination with mRNA vaccines but developed allergies or severe adverse reactions after the first dose of mRNA vaccine should complete a three-dose primary series regime with two more doses of Sinovac-CoronaVac," the ministry said.

"If the allergic reaction happens after the second dose of mRNA vaccine, then he/she should take one more dose of SinovacCoronaVac as their booster vaccination when they are eligible for a booster."

But as recommended by the expert committee on COVID-19 vaccination, those who can take mRNA vaccines should continue to take two doses of that, said MOH.

This is due to the relatively lower vaccine efficacy of Sinovac-CoronoVac compared with mRNA vaccines, it added.

In addition, those who had received only one or two doses of the Sinovac vaccine to date, are "strongly encouraged" to complete a three-dose primary series regime with the mRNA vaccines as it offers more "optimal" protection, the ministry noted.

However, Sinovac-CoronaVac will be not offered as a booster for those who had already completed two doses of mRNA vaccine and did not develop allergies or severe adverse reactions. For this group, a third dose of mRNA vaccine will be offered to them as the booster dose instead.

MOH also noted that the Sinovac-CoronaVac vaccine has not been approved for general use for people aged 12 to 17.

"This is not in the application from Sinovac and is also consistent with WHO’s approved use under the Emergency Use Listing. However, for those in this age band who are medically ineligible to complete a full two-dose regime of the Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty mRNA vaccines, we will offer a three-dose primary series using Sinovac-CoronaVac under a dedicated public health programme," said the ministry.

These individuals will be "closely monitored" by trained medical personnel under this public health programme, given that the use of the Sinovac-CoronaVac vaccine in persons under the age of 18 years was not included in HSA’s PSAR interim authorisation.

The ministry will get in touch with eligible persons in this age group on how they can receive the vaccine safely.

As the country moves Sinovac-CoronaVac to a three-dose regime, adjustments will need to be made to the vaccination status of those who have taken two doses of the vaccine, considering that there is an interval of 90 days between the second and third doses, MOH said.

Hence, all individuals who have taken two doses of Sinovac will be considered fully vaccinated for four months after the second dose, or Dec 31, whichever is later.

"This arrangement will provide enough time for individuals to get their third doses and maintain their vaccination status. The same rule will apply to those who had received two doses of the Sinopharm vaccine," said the ministry

"For travellers, we recognise that many may have taken only two doses of Sinovac-CoronaVac in their home country, and we will regard those with two doses as vaccinated, but only for a limited period of 30 days."

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