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No increase in demand for COVID-19 vaccines from visitors, private patients: MOH

The ministry's comments come amid concerns about a potential surge in demand for COVID-19 vaccines from tourists following China's reopening.

No increase in demand for COVID-19 vaccines from visitors, private patients: MOH

The COVID-19 vaccine being administered at Kolam Ayer Community Club, Singapore on Apr 21, 2021. (File photo: CNA/Marcus Mark Ramos)

SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Tuesday (Jan 17) that it has not observed an increase in demand for COVID-19 vaccines in its private vaccination programme, under which visitors may receive mRNA shots at their own cost.

The programme was introduced last April to facilitate vaccinations for people like short-term visitors, who do not qualify for free shots under the national vaccination programme.

CNA previously reported that healthcare providers in Singapore have been receiving more enquiries on COVID-19 vaccination from Chinese travellers, following China’s reopening of borders three years after the pandemic began.

Amid concerns about the demand and supply of COVID-19 vaccines in Singapore, the Health Ministry said it has sufficient stock available for Singaporeans and residents under its national vaccination programme.

“By and large, there is an excess supply of COVID-19 vaccines in the world today,” said MOH in response to CNA's queries.

“Our supply contracts provide us with the flexibility to procure more vaccines if necessary. There is therefore sufficient stock available for Singaporeans and residents under the national vaccination programme."

MOH said it monitors the number of vaccine doses that are administered through the private vaccination programme, adding that clinics under the programme purchase their vaccine stock from the ministry at a non-subsidised rate and charge their customers accordingly.

As of Jan 1, around 3,000 doses have been administered under the private vaccination programme.

This is a "very small proportion" of over 16 million doses of vaccines administered under the national vaccination programme, said MOH.

Under the private programme, seven clinics are approved to offer COVID-19 vaccines - including the Moderna and Pfizer bivalent shots - to people aged 12 and above.

They include clinics operated by Healthway Medical, Fullerton Health and Raffles Medical.

Healthway Medical told CNA that it has seen an increase in demand for the vaccines, adding that it increased booking capacity by 50 per cent in response.

Fullerton Health said it received more queries from China patients, who could be enquiring for themselves or on behalf of family and friends.

Checks by CNA showed that the price per dose ranges from S$140.40 to S$150 (inclusive of GST) at clinics that offer the Moderna bivalent vaccine, while clinics offering the Pfizer bivalent vaccine listed a price of S$188 (inclusive of GST) per dose.

Dr Walter Lim, Singapore managing director of Fullerton Health, said the company is confident of meeting the demand for vaccines.

“We are in a strong position to handle an anticipated increase in demand for vaccines by foreigners/tourists as we have a robust central pharmacy, which also simultaneously manages the vaccine supply chain for our Joint Testing & Vaccination Centres for local patients,” he added.

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Source: CNA/vl(gs)


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