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'Minimal wastage' of COVID-19 vaccine doses at vaccination sites, says MOH

'Minimal wastage' of COVID-19 vaccine doses at vaccination sites, says MOH

File photo of a healthcare worker preparing a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in Singapore. (File photo: Jeremy Long)

SINGAPORE: There is "minimal wastage" of COVID-19 vaccine doses at Singapore's vaccination sites, with take-up rates carefully monitored through appointment bookings, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Friday (Mar 26).

The monitoring enables advance planning of vaccine needs, to facilitate shipment and delivery of an appropriate number of doses to the vaccination sites, the ministry told CNA.

"Vaccination site providers also dilute and start a new vial only when they have checked that there are individuals awaiting vaccination, to avoid vaccine wastage," said MOH.

"Should there be additional doses of vaccine left, there are pre-planned lists of individuals who will be invited to be vaccinated.

"These could be staff who are working at the vaccination sites or frontline volunteers who have an active role in engaging seniors on vaccinations," said MOH.

The ministry was responding to CNA's queries on unused vaccine doses.

READ: How COVID-19 vaccines are transported to Singapore and stored here

Singapore has authorised two COVID-19 vaccines by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna for use here. Both vaccines require two doses to complete the full vaccination regimen.

Each vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine contains up to six doses, while each vial of the Moderna vaccine contains up to 10 doses, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

For both vaccines, vials must be kept chilled and used within six hours after dilution. After six hours, any remaining vaccine should be discarded, according to the CDC's website.

READ: India frets over wastage of 'elixir-like' COVID-19 vaccines

Other countries have had to deal with vaccine wastage. Health officials in India said earlier this month that about 6.5 per cent of vaccine doses there are going to waste, due to a lack of public awareness about the vaccine in rural areas.

In Japan, a freezer malfunction rendered useless more than 1,000 shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the country's health ministry said this month.

South Korea allowed extra doses to be squeezed out of vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines after health workers noticed additional doses left in the vials after the recommended number had been administered.

READ: Singapore made advance purchases for COVID-19 vaccines, including Sinovac

Singapore has administered more than 1.1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses as of Mar 23, according to MOH.

More than 799,000 people have received at least one dose of the vaccine, with more than 300,000 among them having completed both vaccine doses.

MOH said earlier this month that while its focus had been to vaccinate priority groups on public health considerations, it would consider allowing Singapore citizens and permanent residents with "very exceptional circumstances" to receive their vaccination earlier as more vaccine supplies arrive.

On Mar 22, MOH told CNA that it had received about 6,900 appeals from Singapore residents requesting early vaccination. Most of the appeals cited travelling overseas for work, study and other purposes, MOH said.

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Source: CNA/dv(ac)


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