SINGAPORE: More than 50,000 taxi and private-hire drivers will be able to book appointments for their COVID-19 vaccinations from this week, as Singapore progresses with its national vaccination programme.
By the end of this week, active drivers will progressively receive an SMS with a link for them to book their COVID-19 vaccination appointments, said the Land Transport Authority (LTA) on Tuesday (Feb 23).
They can choose to take the shots at any of the vaccination centres, polyclinics or public health preparedness clinics operating as vaccination sites, said LTA.
The vaccination exercise is a joint effort by the LTA and the Ministry of Health, supported by the National Taxi Association (NTA) and the National Private Hire Vehicles Association (NPHVA) as well as taxi and private-hire operators.
Vaccination efforts for the point-to-point transportation sector began on Tuesday, with about 300 drivers getting their first dose at the site of the former Hong Kah Secondary School in Jurong West. The former school site is now serving as a vaccination centre.
Speaking to reporters during a visit to the centre, Senior Minister of State for Transport Amy Khor said the exercise is part of efforts to offer vaccinations to about 80,000 land transport workers to “strengthen the resilience of essential transport services”.
“As of Feb 14, more than 14,000 public transport workers have received the first dose of the vaccination. And among them, more than 10,000 of these workers have received the second dose of their vaccination, thus completing the full vaccination regimen,” said Dr Khor, who is also the Member of Parliament for Hong Kah North.
READ: COVID-19 vaccination begins for land transport sector with jabs to be offered to 80,000 workers
She noted that NTA and NPHVA leaders - who are drivers themselves - had set an example by coming forward to receive the first dose of their vaccines, as had senior management from the taxi and private-hire operators.
“Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NTA and NPHVA have been working closely with our point-to-point drivers and tripartite partners to offer a safe commuting experience. They have been maintaining good personal hygiene, upkeeping the cleanliness of their vehicles and practicing safe management measures while ferrying commuters,” said National Trade Unions Congress (NTUC) director Yeo Wan Ling.
“Our drivers also want to do their part in Singapore’s vaccination strategy. This move will further protect them, their families, as well as our commuters,” said Ms Yeo, who is also an MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC.
“Vaccination can give our taxi and (private-hire) drivers additional peace of mind by ensuring protection for them and their families,” said LTA chief executive Ng Lang.
It will also provide assurance to commuters and contribute to the overall community resilience against COVID-19, he added.
Ms Tammy Tan, group chief corporate communications officer for taxi giant ComfortDelGro, said the firm is glad drivers are being offered vaccinations.
“We are in strong support of the move and have been urging our drivers to sign up - not just for their own health, but for the safety of passengers and their family members too,” she said.
Grab Singapore managing director Yee Wee Tang said the firm will offer drivers an extension of its group prolonged medical leave insurance policy, to cover the potential loss of income should they be hospitalised due to vaccination side effects.
“We will also continue to engage our driver-partners through our driver app to help them better understand the benefits of the vaccination,” said Mr Yee, adding that getting drivers vaccinated is “an important step in helping Singapore move into recovery mode”.
Earlier this month, Grab announced plans to have all of its staff, drivers and delivery riders across the region vaccinated by the end of next year.
Ridership for taxis and private-hire sectors have been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis, due to a drop in tourism and many working from home.
In December, the Government announced a S$133 million COVID-19 Driver Relief Fund, which will see about 52,000 drivers receive S$600 per vehicle per month between January and March, and S$450 between April and June this year.