Singapore's vaccination programme is kicking into high gear, as it expands its scope and increases its pace, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said yesterday.
Eight vaccination centres will be set up by the end of next month, including two centres at Changi Airport Terminal 4 and Raffles City Convention Centre that are already operational, as well as two more at the former Hong Kah Secondary School and Woodlands Galaxy Community Club, which will begin running next week.
Another four centres will be ready next month, and more centres will be progressively opened as Singapore expands its vaccination programme, added Mr Gan, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19.
Shots will also be given at polyclinics and general practitioner clinics, as well as at healthcare institutions.
Speaking to reporters during a visit to Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital yesterday, Mr Gan said the pace of vaccination is being ramped up from this week, with close to 2,800 vaccinated on Tuesday alone.
More than 6,200 people here have received their first doses of the Covid-19 vaccine so far, and this figure is expected to rise substantially in the coming weeks.
"We are planning to continue to expand the scope of vaccination and to increase the pace of vaccination eventually to cover the whole population in Singapore," he said.
Mr Gan and task force co-chair, Education Minister Lawrence Wong, also received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine yesterday.
Mr Wong also announced that the elderly will start receiving their Covid-19 vaccinations from this month. The Government had previously announced that seniors aged 70 and above would start getting jabs from next month.
Letters will be sent out to inform the elderly of when they can make bookings for their vaccinations.
Since Singapore kicked off its vaccination drive on Dec 30, vaccines have been administered to healthcare workers in public and private healthcare institutions.
Front-line workers, including those at airports and sea ports, as well as swabbers and workers in community care facilities, are also being vaccinated.
Letters will be progressively issued to other Singapore residents when their turn to be vaccinated comes. Mr Wong said this expansion of the vaccination programme will be timed together with the arrival of vaccine shipments.
Mr Gan urged Singapore residents to go for the vaccination when they are offered one, stressing that it will collectively provide protection against the coronavirus to the whole population if a high vaccination rate is achieved.
"This, in turn, will allow us to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic more quickly. It will allow our economy to recover faster, it will also allow us to resume our community activities faster," he said.
If all goes to plan, Singapore will have enough vaccines to vaccinate everyone by the third quarter of this year.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine - the only one approved here to date - requires two injections, given 21 days apart. Singapore is expecting more vaccine deliveries in the next few months, including from American biotechnology firm Moderna and China's Sinovac.
The Sinovac vaccine has yet to be approved, said Mr Gan. The Moderna vaccine, which has a similar efficacy rate as Pfizer's, is under review, Mr Wong said.