Docs, nurses step up to give jabs at home

Over 100 professionals respond to Ong Ye Kung's call for home vaccination volunteers

More than 100 doctors and nurses stepped forward over the National Day weekend to assist with home vaccination efforts.

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung told The Straits Times yesterday that 48 doctors and 56 nurses had signed up with SG Healthcare Corps in the 72 hours since he put up his appeal on social media for medical professionals to volunteer their services. They are needed to provide jabs to seniors who cannot leave their homes.

Calling the response very encouraging, Mr Ong said that every vaccinated senior is one more senior protected against Covid-19.

"We are following up with the volunteers, and hope this can help us double the number of home vaccination teams to reduce the wait time significantly," he said.

SG Healthcare Corps is a medical reserve force launched in April last year to marshal volunteers in the fight against Covid-19. It consists mainly of medical staff from the private sector, retired medical professionals and those who are medically trained but are no longer practising.

At a press conference last Friday, Mr Ong said the demand from seniors unable to leave their homes is "very sizeable and growing", and the waiting time for them before they get their shots is "about eight weeks, which is quite long".

"Our home vaccination teams have been working flat out to vaccinate them at home," he said. "MOH (Ministry of Health) will have to beef up our resources, increase the number of home vaccination teams in order to cut down the time. To do so, we will need more teams."

Mr Ong had asked on his Facebook and Instagram pages for nurses and doctors to come forward and sign up under SG Healthcare Corps, so that more seniors can be vaccinated soon.

There are currently about a dozen home vaccination teams, run by home-care providers Speedoc and Jaga-Me, as well as Edgedale Medical Clinic.

Mr Ong said his ministry is aiming to double the number of home vaccination teams to reduce the waiting time significantly.

He thanked the medical professionals who stepped up. "My deepest appreciation to the volunteer doctors and nurses. I salute your sense of duty and commitment."

As at Aug 4, home vaccination teams had given shots to about 1,200 individuals, including three seniors on Pulau Ubin, said MOH.

Yesterday, MOH said the long waiting time is due to high demand for home vaccination.

"Our joint publicity efforts with the People's Association and Silver Generation Office have led to higher awareness for the need to get vaccinated," it said.

The ministry also said the home vaccination service is available to any individuals unable to leave their homes, and not just seniors. They include people who are immobile or have special care needs.

The doctors and nurses who have signed up will be matched with medical service providers currently running the home vaccination teams who will deploy and remunerate them, it said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 10, 2021, with the headline Docs, nurses step up to give jabs at home. Subscribe