SINGAPORE - When Mr Kenneth Tay, 36, heard that his six-year-old daughter could get vaccinated against Covid-19 without an appointment from Tuesday (Jan 25), he leapt at the opportunity.
His reason? To keep his family, and especially his six-month-old newborn, safe from the virus.
Mr Tay was one of the first few parents who walked into vaccination centres to get their children inoculated. Any child aged five to 11 can now walk in without an appointment for Covid-19 vaccination from Mondays to Thursdays.
The businessman, who had been waiting to make an appointment to get his daughter inoculated since the vaccination drive for children her age began in early January, was eager to skip the waiting process.
On Tuesday, he took his daughter to Hougang Community Club, one of the 15 paediatric vaccination centres for children between the ages of five and 11, after school at around noon.
Mr Tay said: "I was in a hurry to get my daughter vaccinated because, with the rising Covid-19 cases in the community, I did not want her to fall seriously ill."
"I hope that the vaccine will be available for even younger children to keep them safe as well."
The introduction of walk-ins for younger children comes after Singapore's director of medical services, Associate Professor Kenneth Mak, announced last Friday (Jan 21) that children below the age of 12 were starting to form the majority of hospitalised Covid-19 cases in Singapore.
Previously, only children who were accompanying their sibling to a vaccination appointment could get a jab without booking, under the "sibling walk-in" arrangement that began on Jan 10.
With the coming Chinese New Year season, when people are likely to gather more often, parents are taking advantage of the new walk-in system to protect their children from infection.
Ms Rachel Seah, a 33-year-old housewife who took her five-year-old daughter to get vaccinated at Clementi Community Centre, said: "As Chinese New Year is coming and we will be taking her to the zoo and an exhibition, we thought that it would be safer to get her vaccinated.
"If we didn't have those plans, we would still encourage her to get vaccinated, but we would not have been in such a rush."
Some parents wanted their children vaccinated to drive up Singapore's vaccination rate.
Engineer Samir Piriyev, 39, who took his daughter, 11, to Clementi Community Centre, said: "We want to be part of a safe and healthy community, and also hope to contribute to Singapore's goals to increase the national vaccination rate."
However, not all parents felt the need to rush to get their children inoculated, mostly because they had already secured vaccine appointments for them.
The Straits Times found that only two out of the 10 parents who took their children to Hougang Community Club to get vaccinated were walk-ins.
The other eight were there for their children's scheduled appointments.
The vaccination process at Clementi Community Centre and Hougang Community Club on Tuesday was smooth and quick.
The Straits Times noted that queues were short and moved quickly at both venues at around 1pm.
Madam Priyadarshini Vasudevan Mukundarajan, 38, a housewife who was with her 11-year-old daughter at Hougang Community Club, said: "The process was very simple and smooth, and took only about 15 minutes."