BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN — The health ministry plans to provide COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for eligible adults in stages, beginning with frontline workers.

Health Minister YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham Hj Jaafar said frontliners would be prioritised in receiving messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccines such as Pfizer and Moderna as booster jabs before rolling out to other groups.

Speaking at a press briefing on Wednesday, he said studies have shown that individuals who took different vaccines as their first and second doses can get mRNA vaccines as booster shots.

During the first phase of Brunei’s COVID-19 vaccination drive that started on April 3, frontline workers were offered either Sinopharm or Oxford-AstraZeneca jabs.

The government last month made it mandatory for all frontliners to get inoculated against COVID-19, including healthcare workers, customs and immigration officers and uniformed personnel.

YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham said booster jabs would be administered at least six months after the second vaccine dose.

The announcement of booster shots comes a day after Brunei received 100,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine from Singapore. Earlier in August, the city-state had contributed the same amount of vaccine doses to Brunei.

The sultanate is also expecting the delivery of 300,000 Pfizer vaccine doses later this year as it seeks to inoculate at least 80 percent of the population by the end of 2021.

Since the resumption of first dose vaccinations on September 16, Brunei administered the highest number of jabs in a day on Tuesday totalling 9,681.

To date, 63 percent of the population has received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose while 41.5 percent of residents have completed their full vaccination regimen.

Health minister YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham. Photo: Rasidah Hj Abu Bakar/The Scoop

Friday walk-in vaccinations cancelled

Walk-in jabs will no longer be available every Friday after the Indoor Stadium vaccination site was overrun with crowds last week.

However, yellow and purple identity card (IC) holders are allowed to get their first vaccine dose at the Indoor Stadium every Friday from October 1.

They are required to schedule an appointment by calling, texting or sending a message on WhatsApp. Vaccination bookings for Friday are not available on the BruHealth app.

Individuals should provide their full name, IC number, BruHIMS number (if available) and phone number when they book their first dose appointments.

Vaccination bookings for this Friday opened at 6pm until 11pm on Wednesday, and will continue on Thursday from 8am until all slots are filled.

The ministry has allocated 2,000 vaccination slots and extended operating hours from 8am to 8pm every Friday at the Indoor Stadium.

Those who are scheduled to get their first vaccine dose on Friday are advised to turn up at least 40 minutes before their appointment as they will be given an antigen rapid test.

The ministry is also planning to vaccinate local and foreign workers in the private sector every Sunday from 2pm to 8pm.

The government will coordinate with companies to arrange the vaccination schedule for employees.

YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham said foreigners with expired identity documents or work permits can still get vaccinated as long as they are registered with their employers.

The Department of Immigration and National Registration has suspended applications on the renewal of ICs and employment passes since August.

MoH reports 137 new cases; one COVID-19 patient passes away

The health ministry detected 137 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, a 21 percent rise from a day earlier.

Another COVID-19 patient, a 64-year-old man, has passed away but his death is not linked to the coronavirus. The official COVID-19 death toll stands at 30.

There are currently 116 active clusters after four new household clusters were reported, while the Champion 7-Posh Endurance vessel cluster has been closed without new infections over the last 28 days.

Some 140 people were discharged overnight, bringing the number of active cases to 2,181.

Forty-two patients require intensive care, including six who are in a critical condition.