SINGAPORE, June 19 (The Straits Times/ANN): More than half the population in Singapore have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccines, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung on Saturday, cheering the progress of the vaccination drive.
About 36 per cent have received the complete regimen of two doses.
Singapore's vaccine roll-out was ramped up in recent weeks as part of the strategy to prepare for the new normal with Covid-19 as an endemic disease. The accelerated national vaccination programme prioritises first-dose vaccinations, so that more people have at least some protection from the coronavirus.
Posting the latest figures on Facebook, Ong said: "Let's all push it up further."
He added: "We are vaccinating as fast as we can but we are constrained by supplies due to the high global demand. We will do our best to confirm the delivery of more vaccine to open up more slots as early as possible.
"So when it is your turn to go for the jab, please do so, and encourage your friends or family members to do likewise."
Ong had said at a press conference on Friday (June 18) that there is increasing consensus among international experts that Covid-19 will become endemic.
This means that the virus will continue to mutate and circulate, like the influenza virus, and people will have to adapt and learn to live with it.
Reiterating this in his post, he added that Singapore had built up its capabilities over the past year to test, contact trace and isolate those who have Covid-19 very quickly, and has also vaccinated "a good part" of its population.
"With these defences in place, I believe we are able to put the circuit breaker as a response behind us, and able to keep most businesses open, carry on with our daily lives," he said.
"But to go further, to help keep F&B (food and beverage establishments) and gyms open, and even resume travel, our vaccination rate has to be higher. We can then be better protected, even if the virus is circulating in the community."
Singapore had put in heightened measures in May to curb the spread of the virus and bring down a spike in cases after clusters emerged in Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Changi Airport.
The restrictions have been progressively relaxed over the past weeks. On Friday, the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19, which Ong co-chairs, announced further easing, such as allowing people to dine out in pairs from Monday (June 21).
While giving an update on Singapore's strategy against Covid-19 at the end of May, the task force, as well as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, had said that higher vaccination rates will be needed for people to be able to carry on with their lives with the virus in their midst.
The plan is to work towards allowing people to go to work and meet their friends, take part in large-scale events, and eventually even go around outdoors without masks. - The Straits Times/ANN