MPs meet seniors ahead of Covid-19 vaccine roll-out in AMK, Tanjong Pagar

A Singapore General Hospital staff member getting his vaccine shot earlier this month. Doctors have said that the potential consequences of Covid-19 infection for seniors far outweigh the risks from the vaccine’s side effects. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Members of Parliament (MPs) have been going door to door to talk to residents in Ang Mo Kio and Tanjong Pagar, which will have the first seniors to be offered vaccination against Covid-19, though interviews indicate that some are still on the fence about it.

Covid-19 vaccinations for seniors aged 70 and older will kick off on Wednesday (Jan 27), beginning with residents in Ang Mo Kio and Tanjong Pagar.

About 5,000 to 10,000 seniors in each of the housing estates are due to receive letters inviting them to book appointments at polyclinics.

The booking system is required to avoid vaccine wastage, like when the jabs are prepared but no one is there to receive them.

Older residents told The Straits Times on Sunday (Jan 24) they had concerns about the vaccine.

Ang Mo Kio resident Alice Soh, who is in her 60s, said she was worried that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the first Covid-19 vaccine to be approved for use in Singapore, is not "guaranteed" to protect people against the virus.

"I read in the papers that it's not 100 per cent effective, and if there's a chance I will still get (Covid-19), then what's the point of getting the vaccine?" said Ms Soh, who is semi-retired.

When it was pointed out that the vaccine had 95 per cent efficacy, she said she still needed time to think about it.

Bukit Merah resident Tan Hock Guan, 85, said he was in two minds about the vaccine because of the possible side effects.

"My wife has already said she is not getting vaccinated," said Mr Tan in Mandarin.

But retired teacher Jasmine Teo, 78, said she would take the vaccine as soon as it is available to her.

"After reading what Covid-19 patients go through, I want to take the vaccine and not worry so much about getting the virus," she said.

Doctors have said that the potential consequences of Covid-19 infection for seniors far outweigh the risks from the vaccine's side effects.

Seniors are particularly vulnerable to complications from Covid-19, and are at a much higher risk of hospitalisation and death if they are infected, compared with younger people.

Tanjong Pagar GRC MPs Eric Chua and Joan Pereira, as well as Ang Mo Kio GRC MP Ng Ling Ling, were among the MPs who were out meeting residents at the weekend.

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Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said last Friday (Jan 22) that seniors in Ang Mo Kio and Tanjong Pagar will be able to book their vaccination appointments at polyclinics from today.

People's Association volunteers and Silver Generation Ambassadors will also conduct house visits and tap existing grassroots events to answer queries and help seniors book appointments, if necessary.

Two vaccination centres at Teck Ghee Community Club and Tanjong Pagar Community Club will be set up by Feb 1, with more to follow as vaccinations are progressively extended to all seniors by the middle of next month.

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