Students will be the next group to be vaccinated, says Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his address to the nation on May 31.
This is due to the latest outbreak affecting more children in schools and tuition centres.
Students will be vaccinated during the upcoming June holidays. Bookings will open on June 1.
Priority will be given to students taking their “O”, “N” and “A” levels, as well as special needs students.
Students aged 12 years and above, as well as students in institutions of higher learning will be next to take the vaccinations.
The final remaining group comprising young adults aged 39 years and younger, will be vaccinated around mid-June, after the students have received their jabs.
Singaporeans in the group will be given a two-week priority window to book their appointments before others.
In his speech, Lee also urged the remaining elderly – some 280,000 of them – who have not booked their appointments yet, to get vaccinated.
“The vaccines are safe, and they will keep you safe,” he stressed.
The process is now made more convenient for residents aged 60 and above. Residents belonging to that age group can simply walk into any vaccination centre and receive their vaccinations on the spot.
Immobile residents who are unable to make their way to the vaccination centres will have a doctor or nurse visit their homes to administer the vaccination.
No registrations or advance bookings are required.
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Today, nearly four in 10 residents have at least one dose of the vaccine, with the nation’s next target have at least two-thirds of residents receiving the first dose.
Singapore should be able to achieve this target by early July provided supplies “come in as planned,” says Lee.
“Everyone who is eligible for a vaccination and wants one should be able to get at least their first jab by National Day,” he adds.
First dose vaccinations will be prioritised, as vaccinations would be sped up in the next two months, according to the recent announcement made by the Multi-Ministry Task Force (MTF).
“This approach will quickly provide the maximum number of people with good protection, instead of a good number of people with maximum protection,” says Lee.
Compared to our situation a year ago, during the first outbreak, Singapore is “in a much better position today”, says Lee, amid stronger defences, a “well-advanced” vaccination programme, as well as more sophisticated testing and contact tracing capabilities.
That said, we are also fighting new, more infectious variants of the Covid-19 virus, says Lee, who named the B.1.617.2 variant, which was first detected in India and is now in over 50 countries.
“More variants will inevitably emerge, and we will have to deal with them too,” he adds.
On this, he states that the nation has to conduct more tests, contact tracing and vaccinations, and in a quicker manner in order to combat the more infectious strain.
More Covid-19 tests such as antigen rapid tests (ART), breathalysers, wastewater surveillance, even sniffer dogs, have become available, says Lee.
Singapore will be shifting its approach to testing as well. Instead of simply testing to identify infections when a new case pops up.
“We will also routinely and regularly test people who appear well, in normal work or social or community settings, to make these places safe,” says Lee.
“Extensive testing will give us confidence to resume larger scale events or gatherings,” he adds, citing football games, weddings or concerts as examples.
As such, routine, large-scale, fast and simple testing will be part of the new normal.
Looking forward, Lee says he does not expect Covid-19 to disappear entirely.
“It will remain with humankind, and become endemic. The virus will continue to circulate in pockets of the global population for years to come. This also means we will see small outbreaks of the disease from time to time in Singapore as well,” he says.
“In this new normal, we will have to learn to carry on with our lives even with the virus in our midst,” he adds.
This means that borders will not be closed entirely.
Food, essential supplies, workers, businesses, as well as other travellers are still required in Singapore to “keep on flowing”.
On this, “we will not be able to prevent some infected persons from slipping through from time to time”.
“But as long as our population is mostly vaccinated, we should be able to trace, isolate, and treat the cases that pop up, and prevent a severe and disastrous outbreak,” he says.
While Singapore is currently away from the “happy state” of resuming international travel, receiving overseas visitors, and even going about without masks, we are now “heading in the right direction”.
Singapore is on track to relaxing its heightened alert measures, which is slated to take place after June 13.
This will happen if the situation “continues to improve and the number of community cases falls further,” says Lee.