BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – Individuals who have taken two COVID-19 vaccine doses are still considered fully vaccinated in Brunei even though the government has authorised booster shots for all adults.

Health Minister YB Dato Dr Hj Md Isham Hj Jaafar Saturday said Brunei is maintaining its policy of two doses as part of the primary vaccination series.

Taking a booster shot is encouraged but it’s not required to be considered fully vaccinated,” he said at the COVID press conference.

Booster doses have been administered since October last year, but the government has yet to make it mandatory for all eligible adults to receive a top-up COVID vaccine.

Noting that some countries have included a third dose to achieve full vaccination status, the minister said Brunei residents can take booster jabs at least three months after their second dose.

Singapore became the latest country that requires its residents to get a third vaccine dose or risk losing their full vaccination status, as the city-state braces for a surge in Omicron infections.

More than 120 countries have started offering booster shots, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The WHO said emerging data showed waning vaccine efficacy against COVID infection six months after completion of the initial vaccine series.

“Vaccine effectiveness against severe COVID-19 decreased by about 8 percent over a period of six months in all age groups,” it added.

Brunei has the highest double-dose vaccination coverage in Southeast Asia, with 93.6 percent of its population fully jabbed.

Some 26.8 percent of residents have received a booster shot thus far.

Asked about the rise in local coronavirus infections in recent days, YB Dato Dr Hj Md Isham said most of the cases were linked to social gatherings.

“What needs to be highlighted is that anyone who is not feeling well shouldn’t go out,” he said, adding that guests who wish to attend events should perform antigen rapid tests first.

Brunei started the week with a bed occupancy rate of 2.3 percent, but that figure has since increased to 3.9 percent on Saturday.

There are currently 145 active cases, while the cumulative confirmed COVID cases reached 15,597.