Enough vaccines secured for all Singaporeans, PRs and long-term residents, who can get it for free, says minister

05-Jan-2021 Intellasia | Today | 12:17 PM Print This Post

Singapore has secured enough vaccines for all citizens, permanent residents and long-term residents, with the supplies due to arrive here by the third quarter of this year, said Health minister Gan Kim Yong today, as he gave an update on the Covid-19 situation in Parliament.

The vaccine will be free for all three groups, which total about 5.7 million people.

Long-term residents include Employment Pass, S-Pass and Work Permit holders, foreign domestic workers, Dependent Pass, Long-Term Visit Pass and Student Pass holders. It does not include Short-Term Visit Pass holders and tourists.

Gan, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force convened to tackle the pandemic, said the vaccines will arrive in batches, with more deliveries expected in the next few months, including those from Moderna and Sinovac.

The first batch of Pfiser-BioNTech vaccines  the first to be approved for use here  arrived in Singapore on December 21 and was administered to staff from the National Centre of Infectious Diseases from December 30.

Calling vaccination a “critical shield”, Gan also encouraged as many residents to get vaccinated as it will be an important step for Singapore to return to normalcy.

“This will not only protect yourself, but also indirectly protect others who cannot be vaccinated due to medical reasons. This collective protection will be more effective the more people are vaccinated,” he said.

While there may be some who feel that there is no urgency to get vaccinated given Singapore’s low number of community cases, Gan warned that residents here should not be complacent and only rush to get vaccinated when there is an outbreak.

“We have seen a few community cases in the last few days, which shows clearly that there are hidden cases among us. We are also seeing new variants that are more contagious. Any of these cases has a risk of sparking a major outbreak as we have seen in other countries.

“The best time to vaccinate is now. If people wait till an outbreak has happened to get themselves vaccinated, it will be too late, both to protect themselves and to prevent the outbreak in the first place,” he said.

Authorities have earlier said that vaccinations will be prioritised for those who are most at risk. This is why healthcare workers have been the first to be vaccinated.

Gan said today that vaccinations for the elderly will start from next month, beginning with those who are 70 years old and older.

Those in jobs where there is a high risk of a super spreading event happening, such as workers in the construction, marine and process sectors, including migrant workers, will also be prioritised.

He said that individuals will not be given a choice on which vaccine they will be injected with. Instead, vaccines will be allocated based on its availability, the medical indications of the different vaccines and the suitability of the vaccine for different subgroups.

“Allowing individuals to have a choice of vaccines will unnecessarily complicate the already complex vaccination programme,” he said.

Considerable resources will be needed to vaccinate the entire population, noted Gan.

While healthcare workers are currently getting vaccinated in their hospitals, clinics and vaccination centres are being prepared for others to receive the jabs.

He said that prior bookings will be necessary given the cold-chain requirements at vaccination sites and multi-dose vials of the vaccines. He added that more information on how to make bookings will be provided soon.

Those who have been vaccinated will receive a physical card, which will remind them of their appointment to return for their second dose, indicate which vaccine was administered and provide post-vaccination advice.

They will also have their records updated in the National Immunisation Registry and they can check on their status online.

Gan was asked whether workers who are not vaccinated will have their job scopes reviewed, in order to reduce exposure to the virus. He replied that in most instances, redeployment of non-vaccinated employees will not be necessary, unless there is a resurgence of local cases.

However, there may be an exception for researchers or laboratory staff working directly on the Covid-19 virus or those who face high risk of exposure to infected individuals, he added.

Gan said surveys done by government agencies showed that about 60 per cent of the population here would get vaccinated and about a third said they were cautious.

He said that authorities will continue to do more educational outreach to the public to explain the importance of vaccination and to assure them of its safety and efficacy.

He also urged that the public refer only to official or credible sources of information as there have been false claims made about the vaccine.

For example, he noted, there were claims that six people had died due to the Pfiser-BioNTech vaccine during clinical trials.

“However, the facts are that only two of the individuals were given the vaccine and the other four were given the placebo. Investigations revealed that there was no causal relationship between the vaccine and the two individuals’ deaths,” he said.

“Spreading such misinformation undermines our efforts to protect Singapore and Singaporeans against Covid-19.”



Category: Singapore

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