Boost efforts to get more seniors in Singapore vaccinated against Covid-19: Experts

Seniors aged 70 and above were the first group to be offered vaccination, but have the lowest take-up rate.
Seniors aged 70 and above were the first group to be offered vaccination, but have the lowest take-up rate.PHOTO: ST FILE

As Singapore shifts to preparing to live with Covid-19, experts are calling for stepped up efforts to get older folk vaccinated, to help shield them from the likelihood of being hit by the coronavirus and succumbing to it.

Seniors aged 70 and above were the first group to be offered vaccination, but have the lowest take-up rate.

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'I'm old and dying, so what's the point of getting vaccinated?'

Diabetes and high blood pressure are already a part of 83-year-old Tay Seng Kee's life.

And even though his son and daughter-in-law have been persuading him to get vaccinated against Covid-19, he does not see the use of doing so.

With a hint of bitterness in his voice, the retiree, who declined to reveal his former occupation, told The Straits Times: "I'm already old and dying. So what's the point?"

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'Hundreds' of unvaccinated elderly could die in the next year; family should help convince seniors to take jab: Experts

Hundreds of unvaccinated seniors could die in the next 12 months as Singapore loosens Covid-19 restrictions, warned Associate Professor Alex Cook, the vice-dean of research at the National University of Singapore's Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health.

Speaking to The Straits Times, Prof Cook explained that Singapore already sees hundreds of deaths from the flu every year.

"So having hundreds of deaths from Covid isn't too dissimilar... It's just that we have a much better vaccine for Covid than we have for the flu, so we have more opportunity to prevent those deaths," he said.

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Volunteers and doctors bring a human touch to the Covid-19 vaccination campaign

It had been raining non-stop for three hours, and parts of the sheltered walkway were full of puddles. On a day like this, many might prefer to stay sheltered and warm at home.

But not 52-year-old Edmond Tan, who was going from block to block in Tiong Bahru, knocking on doors.

His mission - to check on elderly residents and, among other things, address their concerns about getting a Covid-19 jab.

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Experts divided on effects as young take up vaccine faster than old

Experts are divided on the effects for the elderly as the proportion of vaccinated younger people overtakes that of seniors.

As at last Tuesday, those aged 40 to 59 made up the highest proportion - 86 per cent - of people who have had at least the first dose of the vaccine or booked an appointment to get it. This was followed by those aged 60 to 69, 12 to 29, 30 to 39, and finally those 70 and up.

Only 71 per cent in this last group had done so.

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Seniors not keen on Covid-19 jab tend to have less education, social contact

Seniors who are less educated and have less social contact are more likely to be holding off on the Covid-19 vaccine. This was one of the findings from a recent study by the Singapore Management University's Centre for Research on Successful Ageing (Rosa).

The study was based on data from the Singapore Life Panel, a monthly survey of Singaporeans aged 56 to 75. About 7,230 people responded to the population representative survey last month, when the data for the Rosa study was taken.

At the point of the study, 16.26 per cent of those aged 71 to 75 had not received their first dose of the vaccine. This was higher than the other age groups studied.

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3 common misconceptions about Covid-19 vaccines

The Ministry of Health has said that there are four key reasons why Covid-19 vaccines were developed so quickly.

First, vaccine manufacturers invested a significant amount of resources to ramp up production.

Second, strong global partnerships between international organisations, governments, researchers and manufacturers allowed vaccines to be developed quickly.

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