BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Beginning Thursday the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will be made available to all individuals over 18 through the health ministry’s new “opt-in programme”.

Although the ministry had restricted the routine use of AstraZeneca to senior citizens, it said those under 60 can still consent to the shot as long as they are aware of the slightly elevated risk of blood clots in younger people.

The “opt-in programme” will allow those under 60 to receive a COVID-19 vaccine earlier than scheduled, as the current vaccination strategy only prioritises frontliners and the elderly.

Since the Oxford jab is offered on a voluntary basis, those who prefer to receive another vaccine will have to wait until other options become available.

Individuals who wish to receive the AstraZeneca jab can walk-in to any government vaccination centre starting today, or reserve a slot via the BruHealth app from Saturday.

Designated vaccination centres are the Indoor Stadium in Brunei-Muara and district hospitals in Belait, Tutong and Temburong.

During Ramadhan, centres are open between 8.30am and 1pm from Monday to Thursday and Saturday. People with appointments will be given priority and walk-ins are advised to come after 10am.

The opt-in programme will run from May 6 to 29, or until all available doses are fully utilised.

A senior citizen is ushered into a vaccination cubicle at the Indoor Stadium in Berakas. Photo: Rudolf Portillo/The Scoop

Slow uptake of vaccines among seniors

Since the government’s vaccine rollout began on April 3, a total of 16,632 people — mostly frontliners — have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

However, MoH has reported a slowing in the vaccination rate since the service was opened up to seniors.

The ministry stressed that despite a slightly elevated risk of blood clotting in younger people, the overall risk is still extremely low at four in one million – significantly lower than other medical interventions such as the use of heparin or oral contraceptives, or the risk of clotting from natural events such as pregnancy.

Brunei currently uses the AstraZeneca and Sinopharm vaccines as part of its national vaccination campaign, and is expected to receive shipments of Pfizer and Moderna later this year.

All COVID vaccines administered in Brunei require two doses spaced between four to 12 weeks apart, depending on the vaccine brand.

For more information on how to obtain the AstraZeneca vaccine: