SINGAPORE: Measures have been tightened to ensure that people are not given the wrong COVID-19 vaccine, said Education Minister Chan Chun Sing on Friday (Jun 4).
This comes after a first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine was wrongly administered to a 16-year-old student on Thursday at Kolam Ayer Community Club vaccination centre. The vaccine is currently authorised for use in Singapore for those aged 18 and above.
The student's date of birth was "erroneously entered" when he was booking an appointment, and it resulted in his age being incorrectly registered as above 18 years old, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Ministry of Education (MOE) in a joint statement early Friday morning.
The ministries added that vaccination centre staff members had failed to verify his age during registration.
"Since yesterday we've done a thorough debrief with the MOH team, and they have tightened up the measures to make sure that this mistake of not thoroughly verifying before the vaccination is not repeated,” said Mr Chan on Friday afternoon.
Staff members from MOH will also look at the registration process to see how chances of a wrong entry can be minimised, he added.
“But having said that, the final layer of checks must be on the ground, whereby prior to the vaccination, the staff will check and verify the IC number, the allergies, the age profile of the person coming in for the vaccination. So we've also issued instructions, particularly to all the centres offering Moderna,” said the Education Minister.
“It is less of an issue for the centres offering Pfizer because Pfizer is given to be used for all age groups. But for Moderna, thus far we have not gotten the HSA (Health Sciences Authority) approval for that."
READ: More than 400,000 students aged 12 and above to receive COVID-19 vaccination invite from Jun 1
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been approved for use in Singapore for children aged 12 to 15. Students below 18 years old will only be offered the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, while people aged 18 and above can opt for either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines.
“We want to make sure that all the Moderna centres put in an extra layer of checks to make sure that whoever goes to the Moderna centres is eligible for the Moderna vaccine," Mr Chan added.
The error in giving the 16-year-old student the Moderna vaccine was discovered during the post-vaccination observation period when vaccination centre staff members identified that the boy was under 18.
He was placed under a longer observation time of 50 minutes as an additional precaution and "remains generally well", said the ministries early Friday morning.
The boy’s parents are “calm”, and the ministries are working with his family to support them and are making sure "the health and well-being of the child is well taken care of”, said Mr Chan on Friday.
VACCINATION REGISTRATION NUMBERS
The response rate to the invitations to register for vaccinations has been “very positive”, said the Education Minister. Mr Chan was speaking to reporters at ITE College Central, one of the four dedicated vaccination centres for the student vaccination exercise.
Students in graduating cohorts - those taking their GCE N- O- or A-Level exams this year, were among the first to receive their invitations. More than five in six of such students have already registered for vaccinations, said Mr Chan.
Registration for vaccinations has also been opened up to polytechnic students and other pre-university students, he added. This comprises JC 1 students and non-graduating cohorts of Millennia Institute.
Of this batch, more than three in four of these students have already registered for vaccinations, said Mr Chan.
A third tranche of invitations to register for vaccinations has also sent out to students from Secondary 1 to Secondary 3, as well as Primary 6 students who are 12 years old, he added.
“We are very encouraged by the response rate so far,” said the Education Minister.
The MOE vaccination centre at ITE College Central will be operational from Monday, while the three other dedicated vaccination centres at ITE College West, ITE College East and Raffles City Convention Centre will start operations in the coming weeks, said Mr Chan.
All four centres will offer only the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, he added.
The vaccination exercise for students is expected to be completed by August, the Education Ministry said on May 31, when it announced the exercise.
Responding to a question about whether measures in schools, such as wearing masks, may be relaxed after the vaccination exercise, Mr Chan said: “I think we take that from the prevailing protocols that MOH will advise (on)."
“There are a lot of safe management measures that we must emphasise, that we must continue to adhere to, notwithstanding the vaccination rate. We must never ever be complacent," he added.