Singapore, Jan 4 (PTI) Singapore has secured enough coronavirus vaccines for all its citizens, permanent residents, long-term residents and foreign workers, with the supplies due to arrive here by the third quarter of this year, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong told Parliament on Monday. The vaccine will be free for all, which total about 5.7 million people, reported Today newspaper.
Long-term residents include employment pass, S-Pass and work permit holders, foreign domestic workers, dependent pass, long-term visit pass and student pass holders. It does not include short-term visit pass holders and tourists.
The vaccines would arrive in batches, with more deliveries expected in the next few months, including those from Moderna and Sinovac, said Gan, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force convened to tackle the pandemic.
The first batch of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines — the first to be approved for use here — arrived in Singapore on December 21 and was administered to staff from the National Centre for Infectious Diseases from December 30.
Meanwhile, Singapore-Arcturus COVID-19 vaccine seeks 100 healthy adult volunteers for next trial phase.
Calling vaccination a “critical shield”, Gan also encouraged as many residents to get vaccinated as it will be an important step for Singapore to return to normalcy.
“This will not only protect yourself, but also indirectly protect others who cannot be vaccinated due to medical reasons. This collective protection will be more effective the more people are vaccinated,” he said.
While there may be some who feel that there is no urgency to get vaccinated given Singapore’s low number of community cases, Gan warned that residents here should not be complacent and only rush to get vaccinated when there is an outbreak.
“We have seen a few community cases in the last few days, which shows clearly that there are hidden cases among us. We are also seeing new variants that are more contagious. Any of these cases has a risk of sparking a major outbreak as we have seen in other countries.
“The best time to vaccinate is now. If people wait till an outbreak has happened to get themselves vaccinated, it will be too late, both to protect themselves and to prevent the outbreak in the first place,” Today quoted Gan as saying.
The authorities earlier said that vaccinations would be prioritised for those who are most at risk. This is why healthcare workers have been the first to be vaccinated.
Vaccinations for the elderly will start from next month, beginning with those who are 70 years old and older. Those in jobs where there is a high risk of a super-spreading event happening, such as workers in the construction, marine and process sectors, will also be prioritised.
These sectors had the highest number of COVID-19 infections especially among foreign workers living in dormitories. PTI GS PMS PMS