SINGAPORE: People who have valid reasons to travel out of Singapore cannot jump the queue to get inoculated early against COVID-19, as vaccine supplies are limited at this time, said Senior Minister of State for Health Janil Puthucheary on Monday (Feb 1).
He was speaking in Parliament in answer to questions filed by Members of Parliament regarding vaccination.
MP Joan Pereira (PAP-Tanjong Pagar) had asked whether the Government will consider allowing citizens who need to visit an ill family member who is overseas, to take their COVID-19 vaccination before their turn comes.
MP Yip Hon Weng (PAP-Yio Chu Kang) asked if Singapore residents can be given the option to go for early vaccination if they have good reasons to travel abroad and at short notice. MP Gerald Giam (WP-Aljunied) and MP Sharael Taha (PAP-Pasir Ris Punggol) filed similar questions.
"At this point when vaccine supplies are limited, we do need to prioritise our healthcare and frontline workers and seniors, for vaccination," said Dr Puthucheary.
"We are therefore unable to provide vaccines at this time to Singaporeans outside of these groups and seek their understanding."
He said that this option can be considered when there is greater certainty in Singapore's vaccine supply.
NEED TO PRIORITISE VACCINATIONS
Given the present, short-term limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines globally, there is a need to prioritise the vaccinations, he said.
Singapore has begun vaccination for healthcare and COVID-19 frontline workers. Vaccination has also started for essential workers, such as those in security services, and aviation and maritime workers, who have a higher risk of exposure to infected individuals in the course of their work.
READ: Singapore starts vaccinating seniors against COVID-19 with pilot exercises in Tanjong Pagar, Ang Mo Kio
Seniors have also been prioritised as they are at higher risk of severe or fatal illness if infected.
Dr Puthucheary reiterated that Singapore has signed advance purchase agreements with Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Sinovac, and added that it is in discussions with "a few other pharmaceutical companies".
Due to commercial sensitivities and confidentiality undertakings in its advance purchase agreements, Singapore has not disclosed the amount of vaccines ordered, their cost or the delivery schedules.
"While there will be some delays to the shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines due to the upgrading of Pfizer’s manufacturing plant, we will continue to monitor our supplies closely to meet our target of vaccinating all Singaporeans and long-term residents in Singapore by the end of 2021," he said.
Mr Yip (PAP-Yio Chu Kang) asked in a supplementary question if a waitlist for people who want to be vaccinated before they travel out of the country be set up. Dr Puthucheary said the suggestion will be considered.