An automated vaccine dispenser developed in Singapore in just six weeks has been deployed to at least seven vaccination centers, eliminating the need for syringes to be loaded manually.

This will not only increase safety, but will also allow healthcare providers to focus on other pressing responsibilities, according to a joint news statement issued by the Agency for Science, Technology, and Research (A*Star) and equipment supplier Sysmatic Global on Thursday.

The Automated Vaccine Inoculation Dispenser (Avid) system, the first of its kind in Singapore, weighs less than 25kg and can fill six vaccine syringes in less than five minutes.

The time it takes a nurse to manually load six syringes varies, depending on factors such as the nurse's expertise and tiredness.

The technology relieves the nurses' workload by eliminating the need for them to manually fill syringes, allowing them to focus on caring for and talking with the vaccine recipients. It also decreases the risk of human error, which is extremely crucial when the nurse is tired.

Currently, the machine is used to fill the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, but it can be modified to fill different vaccines.

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat first proposed the concept earlier this year, when he challenged the team to come up with a solution to the time-consuming process.

This cutting-edge solution combines robotic components, smart sensors, and digital technologies.

The vaccine is extracted from the bottle into six individual syringes by Avid, which also handles the dispersion of bubbles inside the syringes. During the transfer of vaccines from vials to syringes, the machine automatically uncaps and recaps the syringes.

"Less than two months after my visit, the A*STAR team came up with the Automated Vaccine Inoculation Dispenser (AVID) system," DPM Heng said.

"This is one of the many ways that innovation in science and technology have contributed to fighting COVID-19 and tackling our national challenges."

The Ministry of Health recently announced that individuals aged 50 to 59 who had two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at least six months ago will be provided an mRNA booster shot beginning October 4.

Booster shots have already been given to adults over the age of 60, as well as those who are moderately to severely immunocompromised and residents of nursing homes.

Approximately 82% of Singaporeans are fully vaccinated.