Vaccination drive brought forward for Singapore seniors, extended to teachers, essential workers

·Editorial Team
·4-min read
People seen queueing at a vaccination centre in Jurong West on 23 February 2021. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)
People seen queueing at a vaccination centre in Jurong West on 23 February 2021. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — Seniors aged 60 to 69 can now expect to receive their vaccine doses earlier than scheduled, while the vaccine will also be extended to essential personnel involved in critical functions such as postmen, delivery staff, news reporters and bank operations staff, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Monday (8 March).

While the seniors were initially expected to commence vaccination from around end-March, this will be brought forward as more vaccine supplies have arrived. Those aged 60 to 69 will receive their invitation letters within the next few days.

Each letter will have a weblink which can be used to register for vaccination, after which a text with a unique booking link will be sent to the respective mobile phones for them to book an appointment. Alternatively, they can also book their appointments for at any community centre/club island-wide.

Vaccination for those aged 70 years and above commenced island-wide on 22 February, and more than 55,000 of them have received their first dose. Another 96,000 seniors have made appointments to receive their first dose in the next few weeks.

Teachers, migrant workers to be vaccinated

Meanwhile, the vaccine will be progressively offered to over 150,000 personnel in educational institutions from Wednesday. Besides teachers and educators, the exercise will also include other individuals who come into regular contact with students, such as administrative staff, adjunct staff and canteen/bookshop vendors.

"We will start with those working in pre- schools, national schools, ITEs and polytechnics, and will progressively extend to those working in other education institutions," said MOH.

Separately, vaccination for migrant workers will start with 10,000 workers who have never been infected by COVID-19 and are living in the five largest dormitories. Vaccination will be conducted in-situ at these five sites, and will then be progressively made available to other migrant workers. 

Workers who have completed vaccination can be subjected to a lower frequency of testing, with testing occurring every 28 days instead of the current 14-day cycle.

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine have been authorised for use in Singapore in individuals aged 18 years and above, and aged 16 years and above respectively.

The Expert Committee on COVID-19 Vaccination, which was tasked by MOH to make recommendations to the government on the country's vaccination strategy, had earlier called for the prioritisation of healthcare workers, nursing home staff and residents, as well as those involved in pandemic operations.

The Expert Committee had also recommended prioritising frontline workers who are at higher risk of exposure.

More essential personnel eligible

Together with other government agencies, MOH has been progressively offering vaccination to personnel who provide essential services.

These include security agencies responsible for safeguarding borders and law and order, including Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officers who man border controls); those involved in the provision of utilities such as water, energy and telecommunications services; and workers who ensure the supply of essential food and household items.

"As more vaccine stocks arrive, we will extend vaccination to essential personnel involved in other critical functions, such as postmen and delivery staff, as well as news reporters, and bank operation staff engaged in critical banking and financial systems operations," said the ministry.

Vaccination was earlier offered to groups who are at higher risk of exposure, such as active taxi and private hire car drivers. Going forward, vaccination will be offered to those who have multiple touch points with many members of the community, such as wet market stallholders and stall assistants, as well as those who serve in the food delivery industry.

Eligible individuals will be informed of the vaccination schedule by the relevant government agencies and will receive a personalised text from MOH notifying them to book their vaccination appointments at vaccine.gov.sg.

The ministry added, "We will continue to systematically extend the vaccination to other segments from April onwards. All Singaporeans and long-term residents in Singapore will have the chance to be vaccinated."

As of 7 March, Singapore has administered more than 596,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine. In total, about 379,000 individuals have received at least the first dose, and more than 217,000 have received their second dose.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, who co-chairs the multi-ministry taskforce (MTF) on the coronavirus, told Parliament last week that only vaccines that meet strict standards of safety and effectiveness will be used for Singapore residents.

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