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Singapore plans to vaccinate students, then everyone else

Singapore plans to roll out vaccines to students, followed by everyone else eligible, in what will be a “great acceleration” of vaccinations in the country, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said in an interview on CNN.

“Our next step is that we’re going to offer vaccination to our school students, the teenagers,” Balakrishnan said, “following which it’ll be open season for everyone in Singapore.” The city-state earlier flagged that almost all of its eligible population could be given at least the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by the end of August

Vaccinations in Singapore are currently open to those aged 40 and above, as well as for priority workforces, such as first responders, hospital staff and airport workers. About 37% of Singapore’s population has had its first jab of the vaccine, a rate far ahead of most developed Asian economies, on par with the European Union’s average, but trailing the U.S., U.K. and Middle Eastern financial hubs like Israel, the U.A.E. and Qatar.

Singapore is one of several countries, mostly in Asia, that have largely kept Covid caseloads and deaths to a minimum but have struggled to reopen. The city-state has tightened its borders and, following a recent uptick in cases, suspended in-person dining, transitioned most schools to at-home learning, and limited groups to a maximum of just two.

Widespread vaccination, then, has become Singapore’s key to reopening.

Balakrishnan said the country has not seen significant vaccine hesitancy, though has been limited by supply. However, infrastructure that can support additional injections capacity is in place, and the country aims to double its vaccination pace.

“Watch this space,” he said. “You’re going to see a great acceleration.”

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