11 Covid-19 vaccination centres now open; about 40 centres to be ready by end-April

Volunteers wait at the observation area at the vaccination centre in Tanjong Pagar Community Club on Jan 26, 2021. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - A total of 11 vaccination centres are now up and running, and more will progressively be opened so that Covid-19 jabs can be administered at about 40 centres by the end of April, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong announced on Friday (Feb 19).

As part of the effort to expand the number of vaccination centres, 17 healthcare providers, including Raffles Medical, Parkway Shenton and Thomson Medical, have been appointed by the Ministry of Health (MOH) to set up and run 36 vaccination centres and 10 mobile vaccination teams, The Straits Times has learnt.

Singapore plans to start mass vaccinations for the elderly from next Monday, following the pilot scheme for seniors in Ang Mo Kio and Tanjong Pagar.

According to documents seen by The Straits Times, the tender, which is worth $38 million, was jointly awarded to the 17 providers on Feb 11. It stated that the vaccination centres should each be able to cater to at least 2,000 people a day.

The centres and the mobile teams will be set up progressively and the number required is subject to change.

Other providers that have been awarded the tender to run vaccination centres include Sata CommHealth, Fullerton Healthcare Group, and Healthway Medical Group. A total of 21 vendors had placed bids for the tender.

Sites for vaccination centres could include vacant schools, community clubs and sports halls. The centres will operate for up to 12 months, and should operate from 8am to 10pm daily, including weekends and public holidays.

The mobile vaccination teams will comprise a medical doctor, four nurses and three administration staff, and will operate from 8am to 6pm daily.

Vaccination centres that opened recently include Jalan Besar Community Centre (CC), Bishan CC, Canberra CC and Senja-Cashew CC.

Three more are due to start running in Bukit Timah, Marine Parade and Taman Jurong by next Monday, MOH said on Friday. ST understands that they will be run by Raffles Medical and Parkway Shenton. There will be 31 vaccination centres running by mid-March, MOH added.

The shots can also be administered at all 20 polyclinics as well as some general practitioners' clinics.

Mr Yong Yih Ming, general manager at Raffles Medical Group, said it will be running the vaccination centre at Marine Parade CC that will be fully operational next week. This centre is part of the recent tender for 36 centres. The group is still awaiting further details from the authorities on the opening of other upcoming vaccination centres, he said.

Two other centres run by Parkway Shenton, under an earlier tender, start operating on Monday, said Mr Ang Chee Wee, the group's chief operations officer. ST understands that they are located in Bukit Timah and Taman Jurong.

Mr Sugumaran Subramanyam, head of operations and corporate affairs at Sata CommHealth, said it will be operating two mobile vaccination teams as part of the tender awarded on Feb 11.

Its mobile teams are already operational and have been deployed since Monday, with 400 people vaccinated over the past four days.

The number of people vaccinated by the two mobile teams is expected to eventually rise to 300 a day, he told ST.

MOH had said in its tender that the appointed vendors will form part of its panel of Covid-19 vaccination resources, and that other vendors or in-house resources may be sought to administer vaccines where appropriate.

Singapore has so far approved the use of vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Both vaccines have been shown to be about 95 per cent effective against the coronavirus that is causing the pandemic.

The two Pfizer-BioNTech injections should be given three weeks apart, while the second Moderna injection is given 28 days after the first. Experts have said that a few days of delay will not reduce the efficacy of the vaccines.

So far, about 250,000 people have received at least one jab, while more than 110,000 - including President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong - have received both doses.

Mr Gan also said in a written parliamentary response on Tuesday that around 73 per cent of healthcare workers in Singapore's public and private sectors, including primary care, acute hospitals and those in long-term care settings, have received at least the first dose of the vaccine. About 72 per cent of Covid-19 front-line workers and essential workers in the aviation and maritime sectors have also been vaccinated.

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Mr Gan was responding to questions from Sembawang GRC MP Lim Wee Kiak, Mountbatten MP Lim Biow Chuan and Non-Constituency MP Hazel Poa.

Mr Gan added that the progress of Singapore's vaccination exercise is currently constrained by the availability of vaccine supplies.

"If vaccine supplies arrive on schedule, we will have enough vaccines for all Singaporeans and long-term residents by the third quarter of this year and will be able to complete the vaccination programme by the end of this year," he said, adding that the progress can be accelerated if Singapore can secure more supplies earlier.

"However, we expect global supply chains are likely to be disrupted from time to time for various reasons," he added, citing how disruptions at the manufacturer's production facility has led to shipment delays. "We continue to monitor closely the situation for any potential vaccine supply disruptions globally."

Correction note: This article has been edited for clarity.

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