SINGAPORE: Singapore will set up seven more COVID-19 vaccination centres across the country, four of which will offer the Moderna vaccine. Authorities will also consider allowing residents with “very exceptional circumstances” to receive their doses earlier.
The seven vaccination centres, located at Bukit Batok, Bukit Merah, Jurong West, Punggol, Sengkang, Tampines and Woodlands, will progressively start operations from Wednesday (Mar 17), said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Tuesday.
By mid-April there will be a total of 40 vaccination centres islandwide.
This is in addition to the 20 polyclinics and 22 Public Health Preparedness Clinics (PHPCs) that are also offering COVID-19 vaccines.
“All vaccination centres are wheelchair-friendly to provide easy access to seniors who have mobility concerns,” said MOH.
The four vaccination centres administering Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine are Hong Kah North, Marsiling, Punggol 21 and Radis Mas community clubs.
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The other vaccination centres, polyclinics and selected PHPCs will continue to offer the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. As more supplies of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine arrive, more vaccination centres will offer the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, said MOH.
Each centre will only stock and administer one type of COVID-19 vaccine, added the Health Ministry, and people must select the same centre for both their first and second doses.
“As the vaccination capacity of each vaccination centre is not the same, the waiting times for first dose vaccination will differ between the vaccination centres,” said MOH.
People are advised to check the availability of appointment slots in other centres if they are unable to secure their desired appointment dates at the centre of their choosing.
The ministry also encouraged people to book their appointments at vaccination centres, which have larger capacities than polyclinics.
EARLY VACCINATION APPEALS
MOH said it would offer vaccines to more segments of the population from April, so that all Singaporeans and long-term residents can be vaccinated by end of the year.
“In the meantime, we have received appeals from members of the public who wish to receive their vaccination early for a variety of personal reasons,” said MOH.
“While our focus has been to vaccinate identified priority groups on public health considerations, as more vaccine supplies arrive, we will consider allowing Singapore citizens and permanent residents with very exceptional circumstances to receive their vaccination earlier.”
These include people who have an “urgent need” to travel overseas to take up or complete a formal education or vocational programme, or to be based overseas for work, and where remote learning or working is not an option.
Those who wish to travel overseas to visit or care for an immediate family member who is critically ill, or to seek “medically necessary treatment that cannot be reasonably received in Singapore”, will also be considered for early vaccination.
People who plan to appeal for early vaccination should cater for the time needed to complete the full course. For the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, the two doses required are three to four weeks apart. The vaccines will be “fully effective” a further two weeks after the second dose, said MOH.
They should aim to complete their appeal application about eight weeks in advance, and those successful will be notified via email.
“We will do our best to accommodate all appeals that meet the stated criteria. But as vaccine supplies are limited, priority will be given to those travelling to higher risk countries or regions,” said the Health Ministry.
The ministry is also working with hospitals and clinics to provide earlier vaccination for their patients with complex chronic medical conditions who might be more vulnerable to severe complications if they contract COVID-19.
Such patients’ doctors will discuss with them if they are eligible for vaccination.
VACCINE INJURY FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAMME
From Wednesday, the Vaccine Injury Financial Assistance Programme for COVID-19 vaccination (VIFAP) will be open for applications.
This programme will provide financial help to Singaporeans, permanent residents and long-term pass holders who are vaccinated under the national vaccination programme and who “in the rare event” suffer from serious side effects that are assessed to be related to the vaccination.
“This is to give greater peace of mind for those deciding on taking up the vaccination,” said MOH.
“The quantum of the one-time goodwill pay-out under the VIFAP is based on the severity of the serious side effects attributed to the COVID-19 vaccines.”
People may qualify for one of the following tiers of pay-out:
- One-time pay-out of S$2,000 for individuals who required inpatient hospitalisation and medical intervention, and subsequently recovers
- One-time pay-out of S$10,000 for individuals who required admission to High Dependency or Intensive Care, and subsequently recovers
- One-time pay-out of S$225,000 for individuals who die or suffer permanent severe disability as a result of COVID-19 vaccination
The second and third tiers were announced earlier this year. The inclusion of the first tier, together with the other two tiers, is meant to “strengthen support” provided to people who suffer from serious side effects due to the vaccination.
“The VIFAP is not meant to reimburse medical costs. It provides an additional layer of financial support, on top of the existing government healthcare financing schemes for medical costs incurred, which include government subsidies, MediShield Life, MediSave and MediFund,” said MOH.
To apply, people will need to submit an application accompanied by medical information from their treating doctor on the serious side effect.
The application will be reviewed by an independent clinical panel for the “relatedness and severity of the side effect(s)” to the COVID-19 vaccine received, added the Health Ministry.
As of Monday, more than 792,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Singapore, with more than 549,000 people receiving at least the first dose. Of those, 243,000 have received their second dose and completed the full vaccination regimen.
Since vaccination for seniors started on Feb 22, more than 175,000 have received their first dose, and about 230,000 seniors have made appointments to receive their first jab in the next few weeks.
“Vaccination is critical to keep us and our loved ones safe from COVID-19, and it is a key enabler for us to return to normalcy,” said MOH.
“While COVID-19 vaccination is voluntary, we strongly encourage Singaporeans and long-term residents who are medically eligible to come forward for vaccination when their turn comes.”