DPM Heng gets first dose of Covid-19 vaccine, says Pfizer shots safe, even for former stroke patients

DPM Heng Swee Keat receives his first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine from Nurse Manager Imrana Banu on Jan 20, 2021. PHOTO: HENG SWEE KEAT/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat received his first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine on Wednesday (Jan 20) morning at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID).

"The vaccine is safe and effective, even for former stroke patients like myself," Mr Heng, who is also Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies and Finance Minister, added in a Facebook post in the evening.

Mr Heng had collapsed during a Cabinet meeting in May 2016 after suffering a sudden stroke caused by a ruptured aneurysm. He returned to work in August that year.

On Wednesday, he said that before receiving the vaccination, he had sat down with Dr Shawn Vasoo, clinical director at the NCID and head of the Infectious Disease Research Laboratory, to run through a medical questionnaire.

DPM Heng shared how thanks to the steady and skillful hands of Nurse Manager Imrana Banu, his vaccination was "painless and done in less than 10 seconds". He also received his vaccination card, and said he would be back in three weeks to get his second dose.

Currently, only the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been approved for pandemic use by Singapore's Health Sciences Authority (HSA).

Two doses are required, 21 days apart, and it will take up to another 14 days after the second dose for those vaccinated to achieve maximum protection against the virus.

Another vaccine candidate, developed by United States firm Moderna, has also submitted its data and is currently being reviewed by the HSA.

Singapore began its Covid-19 vaccination drive last month, and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Covid-19 ministerial task force co-chairs Gan Kim Yong and Lawrence Wong, as well as Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung are among the ministers who have received their first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

They will return for the second dose about 21 days after getting the first dose.

After getting vaccinated, DPM Heng met a group of NCID researchers and thanked them for playing a crucial role in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

He also noted that vaccination was a top discussion topic in his East Coast Conversation on Sunday (Jan 17), where he spoke with residents in his constituency about Phase 3 of Singapore's reopening.

"We are progressively rolling out our national vaccination strategy in the coming weeks and months. I strongly encourage you to take it up when it becomes available to you," he said.

"This will not only protect you, but also your loved ones and our community."

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