Singapore is among one of a few countries that have started giving booster shots to elderly and the immunocompromised. US FDA has recommended Pfizer booster for people aged at least 65 and those at high risk of severe illness.
Is it necessary for me?
It helps reduce the risk of severe illness in the elderly.
Studies show that immunity against coronavirus goes down after the initial shot. Data from Pfizer showed that an additional dose can reduce rates of infection by 11 times and severe illness by 20 times in the elderly. These are hence the first group for consideration for booster shots.
A drop in antibody levels isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
There is always an expected drop in antibody levels after a vaccine is given. Blood full of antibodies would make it sluggish. The quantity of these antibodies is not as important as their quality – whether they can protect the body from illness. Measuring this with certainty is not as clear.
Real world evidence looking at actual infection rates may be better in understanding immunity levels. It does seem that one will more likely suffer more severe effects of the illness if the vaccination was done a longer time ago.
Will extra shots help and are they safe?
Evidence does show that booster shots elicit a stronger immune response. However, as the initial doses are already keeping most of the population well, the benefits of an additional jab may only be marginal for the large majority.
Boosters will provide significant benefit to immunocompromised individuals. Those who are immunocompromised might have difficulties producing satisfactorily high levels of antibodies even after being fully vaccinated. Booster shots will help to bring the level of antibodies up further, though it may remain lower than those who are healthier.
This then strengthens the case for the elderly and those with comorbidities (people with two or more medical conditions) to get the booster shot.
What are the risks involved?
- Not too different from before for common adverse events like fever or local injection site pain, with a small proportion having more serious issues like blood clots and inflammation
- Immune exhaustion: Each additional shot brings the risk that the immune system learns to tolerate the virus rather than recognize it as a threat and seek to eliminate it
What’s the conclusion?
Vaccine booster shots are currently good for some (namely elderly and immunocompromised) but not necessarily for others at this point.
Eligible Singaporeans, Permanent Residents and Long-Term Pass holders aged 50 years old* and above who have received a notification from MOH can get their vaccination done at our clinic free.
*Updated 24 Sep 2021 based on ADDENDUM TO CIRCULAR 119/2021 - FURTHER BOOSTER VACCINATION RECOMMENDATIONS
Getting your Pfizer BioNTech Vaccine at Intemedical Clinic
Before your visit - Book your appointment through https://www.vaccine.gov.sg/ and select Intemedical Clinic (Kovan) - Both doses must be taken at the same centre - Appointment times are between 1pm - 9.30pm
At your visit - Bring proof of your identification (Eg. NIRC/Passport) - Set aside about 1 hour for the visit including 30 minutes of observation time
After your vaccination - Rest and hydrate. Take medications for symptomatic relief for common side effects such as pain over the injection site or fever. If your fever lasts more than 2 days, consult a doctor. - Avoid alcohol for 2 days. Avoid vigorous exercise for 1 week.