About 1% of people who turned up for vaccine rejected due to issues like allergies

People waiting in an observation area after receiving their Covid-19 shots last month at Senja-Cashew Community Club. Senior Minister of State for Health Janil Puthucheary said there is no vaccine wastage on account of people not turning up for their
People waiting in an observation area after receiving their Covid-19 shots last month at Senja-Cashew Community Club. Senior Minister of State for Health Janil Puthucheary said there is no vaccine wastage on account of people not turning up for their shots or being rejected for vaccination. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

About 1 per cent of people who turned up for their Covid-19 vaccinations were rejected owing to concerns about allergies and conditions that could make them ineligible to receive the jab.

And close to 98 per cent of people who booked appointments for vaccination in the last 30 days showed up - meaning that about 2 per cent did not.

These figures were revealed by Senior Minister of State for Health Janil Puthucheary in Parliament yesterday, in response to a question from Workers' Party chairman Sylvia Lim (Aljunied GRC) on the proportion of people who have been rejected for the vaccine.

Ms Lim also asked about plans to minimise the wastage of vaccines.

Dr Janil said there is no vaccine wastage on account of people not turning up for their shots or being rejected for vaccination.

Vaccine appointment bookings as well as the historical take-up rate are closely monitored, and the appropriate number of doses delivered, he added.

Unopened vials can be stored at the vaccination sites for at least three days, and to avoid vaccine wastage, staff at the sites open a new vial only when they have checked that there are individuals awaiting vaccination.

There are also pre-planned lists of individuals who will be invited for vaccination at the end of the day to use any balance remaining in a multi-dose vial, further minimising wastage, Dr Janil said.

They could be staff who are working at the vaccination sites or front-line volunteers who have an active role in engaging seniors on matters involving the shots.

Ms Foo Mee Har (West Coast GRC) asked if a system can be arranged so that others who are not yet eligible for the vaccine can be on standby at vaccination centres to take the jab, if there are doses left over at the end of the day even after catering to those on the pre-planned list.

Dr Janil said the Ministry of Health (MOH) will study her suggestion.

Responding to Ms Lim on whether MOH has eased its Covid-19 vaccination guidelines, he confirmed that the ministry has updated its advice on eligibility for the jab.

"As an increasing number of people have been vaccinated, we have confidence over the situations in which someone previously thought to be ineligible might now go forward and have the vaccine," he said.

He added that the online systems and MOH's guidance to staff manning counters and hotlines on the vaccine have also been updated.

He stressed that individuals deemed ineligible now may be able to take the jab at a later stage.

"This is about deferring the appointment and the consultation to a time when perhaps they might subsequently become eligible."

In response to Mr Lim Biow Chuan (Mountbatten), who asked if Singaporeans can opt in to receive early vaccination if they need to travel for work and studies, Dr Janil said an appeals channel has been opened since March 16 for Singapore citizens and permanent residents who need to travel overseas on compassionate grounds, or for employment or study purposes.

"We will prioritise appeals with earlier travel dates if they are able to complete the two-dose regimen prior to departure," Dr Janil said.

The MOH will be conducting further studies to monitor and review the extent and duration of immunity provided by the Covid-19 vaccines, he said.

In line with international practices, there are no plans to test the serology of everyone who is vaccinated here, he said in response to Mr Murali Pillai (Bukit Batok), who asked if MOH intends to measure the antibody levels of people over time after they have been jabbed to assess if they retain immunity against the virus.

More details about the studies will be shared once they have been completed, Dr Janil said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 06, 2021, with the headline 'About 1% of people who turned up for vaccine rejected due to issues like allergies'. Subscribe