7 more clinics chosen to offer Sinovac vaccine: MOH

A woman reads a notice sign about
A woman reads a notice sign about "overwhelming response" for the Sinovac vaccine at a clinic, during the coronavirus disease outbreak in Singapore on 18 June, 2021. (PHOTO: Reuters)

SINGAPORE — Seven more clinics have been selected to provide the China-made Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Friday (2 July) night.

This means a total of 31 private healthcare institutions in Singapore are allowed to offer the vaccine, named CoronaVac, under the special access route.

However, the MOH added that the seven additional clinics may not take in new appointments from those opting to take the Sinovac vaccine, but rather assist in clearing the appointment lists from the 24 existing clinics.

Since 18 June, the 24 clinics have been administering the vaccine from the government’s existing stock to Singaporeans, permanent residents, and long-term pass holders who wish to do so.

"Some of the group clinics in the current list of providers are now ready to ramp up their services to help improve the wait times for individuals on the clinics’ appointment lists," the MOH said. "The MOH has thus activated another seven clinics to provide the Sinovac vaccine."

To avoid queues, those interested to get the vaccine are urged to call the clinic or visit their website to book an appointment prior to heading down to the clinic for vaccination.

"Those who walk into the clinics without prior appointment will be turned away. Individuals are also reminded not to crowd outside the clinics and that safe distancing measures should be adhered to at all times," said the MOH.

The ministry also stressed that the Sinovac vaccine remains unregistered in Singapore as it has not undergone a full evaluation for its safety and efficacy.

This means that CoronaVac will not be covered under the Vaccine Injury Financial Assistance Programme (VIFAP) meant for vaccines under the national vaccination programme. Only those developed by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna are used in Singapore's national vaccination drive.

"Individuals who wish to receive the Sinovac vaccine should discuss its risks and benefits with their doctors at these selected private healthcare institutions, and jointly make an informed decision," said the MOH.

The ministry on Wednesday said that recipients of the Sinovac vaccine will also still have to undergo pre-event testing, unlike those who have already been fully inoculated by either Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.

This is because there is insufficient international data thus far on the effectiveness of the Sinovac vaccine against the Delta variant, it added.

"As the Delta variant becomes more dominant around the world and more data becomes available, we will make an objective assessment and review whether individuals who have received SAR (special access route) vaccines can also be exempted from PET (pre-event testing)," said the MOH.

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung late last month announced that Singapore had signed an advance purchase agreement for the Novavax vaccine, which works differently from the messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccines produced by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.

Novavax, and potentially other such non-mRNA vaccines, is expected to arrive before the end of the year, as part of the national vaccination programme, subject to supply and regulatory approval.

More details will be provided at a later date. "If approved under our national programme, those inoculated with these vaccines will similarly be exempted from PET," said the MOH.

CoronaVac is one of two Chinese-made vaccines, alongside the one by Sinopharm, that have been authorised by the World Health Organization (WHO) for emergency use. Those made by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson have also been given the green light by the WHO.

All vaccines on the list should be recognised by countries as they open up their borders to inoculated travellers, said the organisation on Thursday.

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