SINGAPORE: Singapore has vaccinated more than 6,200 people against COVID-19 and will continue to ramp up the scope and pace of the country’s vaccination programme, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said on Wednesday (Jan 13) after he received his first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
"Particularly in the last few days, we have been ramping up the capacity, and yesterday we vaccinated 2,800 (people)," added Mr Gan, who is co-chair of the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force.
Mr Gan was speaking to invited media at Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital, along with his co-chair Mr Lawrence Wong, who also received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Both of them described the injection as painless and waited for 30 minutes after that to observe for any side effects before they spoke to reporters.
“We are planning to continue to expand the scope of vaccination and to increase the pace of vaccination, eventually to cover the whole population in Singapore,” said Mr Gan.
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To do so, besides tapping on polyclinics and some general practitioner clinics, four vaccination centres will be established by the end of January to enable vaccinations of large numbers of the population, said Mr Gan.
Two of the centres have been operational since Wednesday, one at Changi Airport Terminal 4 and the other at Raffles City Convention Centre, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) in a news release.
The remaining two vaccinations centres, located at the former Hong Kah Secondary School and Woodlands Galaxy Community Centre, will be ready for operations next week, the ministry added.
Singapore is also on track to have another four vaccination centres by the end of February, said the ministry.
“More centres across the island are being planned, and will be rolled out in tandem with the arrival of the vaccine shipments,” said MOH.
“These centres, together with the polyclinics and selected Public Health Preparedness Clinics (PHPC), will ensure that every Singaporean and long-term resident in Singapore who is medically eligible can receive their vaccinations conveniently.”
In a Facebook post, Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said that the vaccination centre at Changi Airport Terminal 4 will serve air crew members and frontline airport workers, while the other venue at Raffles City Convention Centre will cater to marine pilots, crew and frontline workers who have to go on board ships.
“This week will be an operational warm-up, where we will vaccinate small groups, to prepare for full scale operations next week,” said Mr Ong.
VACCINATIONS FOR HEALTHCARE, FRONTLINE WORKERS
The Government is making provision for all Singaporeans and long-term residents to be able to get vaccinated by the third quarter of 2021, barring “unforeseen disruptions to vaccine shipments”, said MOH in its news release.
In line with the recommendations by the Expert Committee on COVID-19 Vaccination, Singapore started vaccinating healthcare workers on Dec 30.
The vaccination programme is “progressing well”, Mr Gan said at the event, with more than 6,200 individuals vaccinated to date.
These numbers are expected to rise substantially in the coming weeks as the government continues to ramp up vaccination operations, said MOH in the news release.
On Tuesday, 2,800 individuals were vaccinated, of whom 2,500 were healthcare workers.
Vaccinations have been offered to healthcare workers and staff members across all public and private healthcare institutions, and are being rolled out for people working in the community care sector, said the ministry.
Aside from frontline workers at border entry points, Singapore has also started vaccinating those involved in the COVID-19 response, such as swabbers and workers in quarantine and community care facilities, the ministry added.
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VACCINATIONS FOR ELDERLY
MOH also announced that vaccinations for the elderly will start later this month. The ministry will progressively send letters to seniors inviting them to book an appointment for their vaccination.
Residents and clients in the community care sector will also progressively be vaccinated, said the ministry.
“Nursing homes have begun engaging their residents and their next-of-kin on the vaccinations. We will work with the community care providers to encourage all medically-eligible residents and clients to be vaccinated,” said MOH.
The Government will step up outreach and engagement efforts to the elderly with the help of volunteers, said Mr Wong, who is also Education Minister.
This will be done by inviting them to the nearest polyclinic, PHPC or vaccination centre through a booking system, added Mr Wong. With the help of volunteers, the elderly will have access to information in different languages, he said.
“So it will be done in phases timed together with the arrival of our vaccine shipments. But we do expect a significant ramp-up from now onwards,” said Mr Wong.
VACCINATIONS ‘VERY IMPORTANT’ IN COVID-19 FIGHT
Mr Gan urged everyone to get vaccinated, saying that vaccinations play a “very important role” in Singapore’s fight against COVID-19 by providing protection against the virus at the individual as well as collective level.
“It will also collectively provide protection to the whole population if we are able to achieve a high level of vaccination in the population,” said Mr Gan.
“This in turn will allow us to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic more quickly. It will allow our economy to recover faster, it will also allow us to resume our community activities faster.”