BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – More than 1,000 teenagers have yet to take their first vaccine dose against COVID-19 due to health reasons and floods, the education minister said on Monday.

Two weeks after the teenage vaccine rollout began, 97 percent of 38,201 students eligible for vaccination are now partially jabbed, YB Dato Hj Hamzah Hj Sulaiman said during the daily COVID press briefing.

Responding to a reporter’s question on reasons that led to some adolescents not getting vaccinated, the minister said some were feeling unwell during the scheduled date of their immunisation.

Others were serving their quarantine orders, while some cited flood-induced disruptions, he added.

Teenagers who missed their vaccination appointments were advised to contact their schools and get inoculated as soon as possible.

YB Dato Hj Hamzah further said the second vaccine dose will be administered to teenagers from December 6.

The health ministry last month approved the use of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID vaccines for adolescents aged 12-17. The recommended dosing interval of Pfizer vaccines is three to four weeks.

Asked about the vaccination rate among students at higher education institutions, the minister said 95 percent has received their first jab and 72 percent completed their two-dose regimen.

Only fully vaccinated students are currently allowed to resume in-person learning at tertiary education institutions.

As of Sunday, Brunei’s double-dose vaccination coverage reached 76.4 percent and 93.1 percent of residents have taken at least one jab.

Education minister YB Dato Hj Hamzah. Photo: Rasidah Hj Abu Bakar/The Scoop

MoH prioritises frontliners and elderly for booster shots

Speaking at the press conference, the health minister said booster shots are still being administered to frontline workers.

“Once we are done with frontliners, we will prioritise seniors aged 60 and above, as well as those with chronic diseases, said YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham Hj Jaafar, adding that booster jabs will be extended to other adults in due course.

He added that booster shots can only be given at least three and six months after the second Sinopharm and Moderna jabs, respectively.

The minister said 43,615 seniors aged 60 and above have received their first vaccine dose – exceeding 100 percent of the elderly population. Some 94.9 percent of senior citizens are now fully vaccinated.

“We’re not surprised that [the vaccination rate of older adults] is more than 100 percent because the vaccines are given for free to all residents here,” he said, adding that foreigners who could not return home due to travel restrictions also received the jab.

Weekly case count continues to decline

The weekly confirmed COVID cases fell to 376 compared to 433 in the previous week.

On average, Brunei recorded 54 cases a day in the past week — down 13 percent from the week prior.

The country has been seeing a downward trend in coronavirus cases since late October, which led the government to ease public health control measures for fully vaccinated individuals last Friday.

The proportion of positive tests also declined from 1.88 percent to 1.74 percent week-on-week.

For the first time since August, no COVID-related deaths were reported last week. The official death toll stands at 57.

In the past 24 hours, the health ministry detected 39 additional coronavirus infections and two new private household clusters.

There are 425 active cases and the national COVID tally reached 14,630.