SINGAPORE: Singapore has begun vaccinating its seniors against COVID-19, with residents in Tanjong Pagar and Ang Mo Kio receiving their first dose of the vaccine on Wednesday (Jan 27).
These are areas where larger numbers of seniors reside, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) last week. Between 5,000 and 10,000 seniors in each of the pilot areas will be invited for vaccinations. Vaccinations will be progressively rolled out to seniors across Singapore from mid-February.
READ: COVID-19: Seniors in Ang Mo Kio, Tanjong Pagar to get vaccinated from Jan 27; national roll-out for elderly begins mid-February
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong visited Ang Mo Kio polyclinic, one of the two vaccination centres for the constituency. The other centre will be set up at Teck Ghee Community Centre by Feb 1. Mr Lee is a Member of Parliament for Ang Mo Kio GRC.
He said most of the 200 people who booked slots to be vaccinated on Wednesday had turned up for their jabs. Mr Lee received his first shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Jan 8.
"I think that people are taking it seriously and in the right spirit and I hope that Singaporeans will come forward and get vaccinated when your turn comes because it is good for you, it is safe, it is free, and will help all of us," the Prime Minister said.
"It will take some time, because first of all, you need two vaccinations and it takes a few weeks to get its full effect. Secondly, you need to build up to vaccinate nearly everybody in Singapore before you have what people call herd immunity."
Close to 100,000 people have started their vaccinations so far, with healthcare and frontline workers first, said Mr Lee.
Mr Lee also urged people to adhere to safe management measures over the coming Chinese New Year holiday to avoid returning to the situation Singapore was in during March and April last year, when cases spiked.
Singapore went into a nearly two-month long "circuit breaker" in April last year to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
"I am concerned, it is a risk because Chinese New Year – just like Hari Raya, just like the other festivals, Christmas – people visit one another in big numbers, and you enjoy yourself," said Mr Lee.
"You have food, you have drinks, you have a good time, you gamble together ... Each time you do that, there is a risk and that means there is a danger of a super spreader event happening."
"So rather than take that risk, I think we all restrain ourselves, celebrate it differently this year, and let us make Singapore safe," he added.
The Prime Minister said he will be doing his usual visits to essential workers who are working over the Chinese New Year period and will probably go to Changi Airport and to a hospital to visit frontline workers.
He will celebrate Chinese New Year at home with eight visitors from the family, he added.
"Celebrate it (Chinese New Year) in the right spirit but keep ourselves safe so that perhaps a year from now, when the Year of the Tiger comes around, we will be roaring like a tiger," said Mr Lee.