Singapore is one of the first countries in the world to start vaccinating children in the 12-18 year age group.
Starting Tuesday (June 1), the city-state is opening up its COVID-19 vaccination programme to adolescents even before completing inoculation of adults.
Singapore is desperate to expand its vaccine reach because its economy is heavily dependent on trade and transport, which cannot open with the pandemic still raging.
The city-state has been using the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines so far, but the government has shown its willingness to try out jabs from Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca and Sinopharm.
“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,” Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Monday (May 31).
The prime minister wants to ease restrictions on social gatherings in about two weeks, which is not possible unless the vaccination programme increases its reach and the COVID situation is brought under control.
The prime minister plans to take the jab (at least the first one) to every eligible Singaporean before the country’s national day, which falls on August 9. Lee said he is confident the required number of vaccines will be available over the next two months. So far, about one third of Singapore’s 5.7 million population has got at least the first dose.
A recent spike in COVID cases had forced the Singapore government to impose tough restrictions on social gatherings. The latest lockdown is the toughest he city-state has see since COVID first appeared last year. The present restrictions will continue until June 13.
Currently, the Lee Hsien Loong government is emphasising on speedy contact-tracing and testing, which includes distribution of do-it-yourself (DIY) test kits.