SINGAPORE: Singapore is expanding its national COVID-19 vaccination programme to include students, with registrations for more than 400,000 schoolchildren aged 12 and above to open on Tuesday (Jun 1).
The announcement, made by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a televised speech on Monday, comes after the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was approved by the Health Sciences Authority for those aged 12 to 15 earlier this month.
The exercise will begin with graduating cohorts from secondary schools and at the pre-university levels, said the Ministry of Education (MOE) in a separate press release. Slots will be available from Jun 3.
Here are some frequently asked questions about the vaccination exercise for students and how they can get their jab.
READ: More than 400,000 students aged 12 and above to receive COVID-19 vaccination invite from Jun 1
Q: How do I register for the vaccine for myself or my child?
A: Eligible students aged 18 and above as well as parents of children below 18 will progressively receive SMSes with a unique registration link, said the Education Ministry.
Graduating cohorts from secondary schools and at the pre-university levels - in particular, students sitting for the GCE N-, O- or A-Level examinations later this year - will be the first to receive the vaccination invitation.
Over the next two weeks, the remaining full-time students in schools and institutes of higher learning will receive their invitations to register for the vaccine, said the Education Ministry.
This includes privately-funded schools, madrasahs and special education schools, said MOE in the press release. Privately-funded schools comprise Anglo-Chinese School (International), St Joseph's Institution International High School and Hwa Chong International School.
Parents of students in graduating cohorts who do not receive the SMS by Jun 3 should contact their children’s school for assistance.
“Schools will also be reaching out to parents of students in mainstream primary and secondary schools separately with additional details on their vaccinations. In general, students who are in schools and the Institutes of Higher Learning should receive their SMSes by the end of the second week of June,” said MOE in a factsheet.
SMS invites will only be sent to parents or guardians of children who are 12 years old as of Jun 1. Students whose 12th birthday fall after Jun 1 will be invited for their vaccination at a later date, said MOE.
Q: Can I choose which vaccine I want to take?
A: Students below 18 will only be offered the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, while those aged 18 and above can opt for either vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, said the Education Ministry.
For both vaccines, the interval between the first and second dose will be six to eight weeks.
Q: Where can I get vaccinated?
A: Eligible students can get their jabs at community vaccination centres. There will also be four dedicated MOE vaccination centres set up at Raffles City Convention Centre, ITE College Central, ITE College East and ITE College West, said MOE.
ITE will arrange for their students to take their vaccinations on campus.
Each ITE centre will have up to 1,600 vaccination slots per day, "comparable" to community vaccination centres, while Raffles Convention Centre can take up to 2,000 slots per day, said MOE in a briefing on Monday.
The ministry will also deploy mobile vaccination teams to special education schools to “facilitate access” for eligible students who may find it challenging to visit a vaccination centre.
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Q: Will parents be allowed to accompany their child to the vaccination centre?
A: Parents are required to accompany their child to the vaccination centre if they are below 13 years old.
Parents of students aged 13 and above are not required to be present. Should they choose to do so, however, they will be asked to wait at a family area outside the vaccination room to avoid congestion and ensure compliance with safe management measures.
Students in special education schools must also be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Parental or guardian consent is also required for students below 18, as part of the booking process for the vaccination slots through the National Appointment System, said MOE. Consent given via the system will be collected once, and will apply for both doses of the vaccine.
READ: Singapore accelerates national COVID-19 vaccination programme, students the next group to be inoculated
Q: What happens if I miss my vaccination appointment? Will I be allowed to make another appointment?
A: Students who miss their first vaccination appointment during the MOE vaccination exercise will be able to reschedule when the vaccination is open to the public for their age bands, said the ministry in the factsheet.
If students miss their second vaccination appointment, they should contact MOH at 1800 333 9999 for further assistance.
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Q: What if my vaccination appointment clashes with my upcoming oral national examinations?
A: If students’ upcoming oral national examination schedules clash with their appointment dates for the first or second dose of their vaccination, changes to their oral examination dates within the examination window can be accommodated where possible, said the Education Ministry.
New appointment dates for the vaccination can also be scheduled.
Special consideration may be applicable if rescheduling is not possible, and parents or students should provide evidence of the vaccination appointment to facilitate this, said MOE.