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Singapore

Mobile vaccination teams, more clinics to offer COVID-19 jabs to encourage senior uptake

SINGAPORE: Mobile vaccination teams will be deployed to more heartland locations over the coming weeks to make it more convenient for seniors to get their COVID-19 jabs.

This was part of efforts to intensify outreach to seniors and encourage them to get vaccinated that the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced on Thursday (Jul 15).

Currently, about seven in 10 seniors above the age of 70 have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. It was "critical" for seniors to be vaccinated as they were the most vulnerable group, said MOH.

READ: COVID-19 vaccination - Why some seniors are holding back, and how a little nudge can help

Up to 10 mobile vaccination teams will be sent to locations near where many seniors live, such as at community clubs or residents' committee centres at housing blocks.

Deployments started last week at Anchorvale Community Club and will continue in phases at the following locations and dates:

- Kallang Community Club and Whampoa Community Club from Jul 14 to Jul 21 (closed on Jul 20 for Hari Raya Haji)

- Changi Simei Community Club from Jul 22 to Jul 28

- Paya Lebar Kovan Community Club from Jul 29 to Aug 4

Mobile teams will be deployed at each location for a few days to a week before moving to other locations.

They will return to the original location to administer the second vaccination dose. This is to ensure that people can receive their second dose at the same location, said MOH.

READ: People fully vaccinated under national programme may be able to gather in groups of 8 from end-July

MORE CLINICS TO OFFER VACCINES

Primary care providers will also be roped into the effort to get more seniors vaccinated, said the ministry.

More Public Health Preparedness Clinics (PHPCs) will offer the COVID-19 vaccine under Singapore's national vaccination programme, starting with clinics in Bedok, Bukit Merah, Hougang and Tampines over the coming weeks.

"All primary care providers have also been called on to help persuade seniors who are their regular patients, to go for their COVID-19 vaccination if they have not done so yet," said MOH.

READ: Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 can lessen the severity of symptoms - Experts

Staff and volunteers from the People's Association and the Silver Generation Office will also intensify ground outreach efforts and reach out to unvaccinated seniors through house visits and dialogues, said the ministry.

They will advise on the nearest vaccination locations, assist those who need help getting to the vaccination centres or arrange for homebound seniors to be vaccinated at home.

SENIORS URGED TO BE VACCINATED

Seniors were at higher risk of becoming dangerously ill if infected with COVID-19 compared to other age groups, said MOH.

"With age and possibly underlying health conditions, their immune system is weaker. Without vaccination, they may not be able to fight off the virus."

The ministry strongly urged seniors to be vaccinated to "protect themselves, their senior friends and their loved ones".

READ: The Big Read - As COVID-19 becomes endemic, it’s a race against time to get more seniors vaccinated

In a Facebook post on Thursday, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said that Singapore's experience with new COVID-19 clusters showed it was not easy to "tame" the Delta variant of the virus.

"The best way to fight the virus is still through vaccination," he said, adding that Singapore had "very high" vaccine take-up rates of more than 80 per cent across all age groups except seniors.

"This is unseen in other parts of the world. It reflects unity and confidence in our collective ability to win this battle.

"The only worry is the group of more than 70-years-old. Our seniors need vaccinations the most, yet they have the lowest sign up, at 71 per cent. The remainder gets harder and harder to reach."

He said the ministry was pushing harder to reach out to seniors and clear their doubts about the vaccine.

At a COVID-19 multi-ministry task force last week, Mr Ong also said that Singapore needed to get more seniors vaccinated.

"You compare across the ages, those above 70 have the lowest first dose and booking rates, it really should be the other way around," said Mr Ong.

"We really ought to have them have the highest percentage. We all know they are most vulnerable," he added.

READ: COVID-19 vaccination take-up rate among seniors good but more can be done, say experts

On Thursday, MOH reminded the public that people aged 60 and above can walk into any of the existing vaccination centres with their IC to receive their first dose without any prior appointment. They can also visit their doctors at any of the participating PHPCs or polyclinics.

Those who are homebound can request to receive their jab at home by calling the Silver Generation Office at 1800-650-6060.

"Vaccination remains a key enabler in our fight against COVID-19. Together, we can help Singapore to reopen safely if we each contribute to achieve a high level of population vaccination coverage," said MOH.

As of Jul 14, Singapore has administered 6.5 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. About 2.4 million people have completed the full vaccination regimen.

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Source: CNA/dv(ac)

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