COVID-19: Financial aid scheme for those who suffer 'serious adverse events' linked to vaccines – Gan

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A healthcare worker from the National Centre for Infectious Diseases receiving a dose of the Pfizer- BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on 30 December 2020. (PHOTO: MCI)
A healthcare worker from the National Centre for Infectious Diseases receiving a dose of the Pfizer- BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on 30 December 2020. (PHOTO: MCI)

SINGAPORE — A new vaccine injury financial assistance programme will be introduced to help those who suffer “serious adverse events” related to the COVID-19 vaccines being administered in Singapore.

“While we expect few to need this, the programme will give peace of mind to those taking the vaccination,” said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, who unveiled the scheme during his Ministerial Statement in Parliament on Monday (4 January).

He added that more details on the programme would be provided in due course.

In replying to questions from several Members of Parliament, Gan noted that those receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine may experience side-effects such as pain at the injection site, fever, muscle aches or headaches. He added that these side-effects are similar to those experienced by people taking other vaccines and usually “resolve on their own” in a few days.

“As with all medications and established vaccines, there is a small risk of very rare but serious adverse events that may occur post-vaccination, including allergic reactions,” said Gan.

In the light of these potential side-effects, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) and the government’s Expert Committee on COVID-19 Vaccination have recommended that those with known severe allergies not be vaccinated. Gan added that vaccine recipients will also be observed on-site for 30 minutes after receiving their vaccination, so that any severe allergic reactions such as anaphylaxis can be detected and promptly treated.

On top of this, vaccine manufacturers are required to continually submit new information to the HSA for review. Both the HSA and Expert Committee will continue to assess the efficacy and safety of COVID-19 vaccines in the local and international populations.

Singapore began rolling out its vaccinations for local healthcare workers on 30 December and plans to have enough vaccines for the entire population by the third quarter of this year. Vaccinations are currently free for all citizens, permanent residents and long-term residents and remain voluntary for all.

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