BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Senior citizens aged 60 and above can now book COVID-19 vaccination slots through the BruHealth app as the government is set to start the next stage of its inoculation drive on April 24.

The Ministry of Health (MoH) in a statement on Thursday said eligible seniors will be offered the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from Saturday, five days after it decided to lift the suspension of administering the jab.

The government had halted the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for two weeks after reports of rare blood clots in people who received the jab in Europe.

Only people over 60 will be given the AstraZeneca vaccine as they were found to have a lower risk of developing blood clots.

However, individuals who are below 60 can still request for the AstraZeneca jab as long as they understand the risks and sign a consent form.

MoH said the benefits of getting inoculated with the AstraZeneca vaccine outweighed the risks.

Further deliveries of the AstraZeneca jabs will arrive in the coming weeks, with 108,000 doses expected by the end of June.

About 38,000 senior citizens are expected to be inoculated in the next phase of the vaccination rollout.

The ministry also announced on Thursday that His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah is now fully vaccinated against COVID-19 after receiving his second dose.

While COVID-19 vaccination is not mandatory, MoH said getting two shots of the vaccine remains the most effective measure to prevent death and severe illness.

When more people are vaccinated in the medium and long term, the higher the level of population immunity against the disease. This will subsequently reduce the impact of COVID-19 on public and community health,” the ministry said.

Some 10,715 frontline workers or 2.3 percent of the Brunei population have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine since Brunei kicked off its vaccination drive on April 3.

The government plans to inoculate at least 70 percent of the population against the coronavirus but vaccine hesitancy could hamper the vaccine rollout.

A survey conducted in January found that only 59 percent of people were willing to take the COVID-19 jab.