Elderly to start getting Covid-19 vaccine earlier, from end-Jan: Lawrence Wong

Letters will be sent out to inform the elderly of when they can make bookings for their vaccines, and volunteers will be trained to help them do so.
Letters will be sent out to inform the elderly of when they can make bookings for their vaccines, and volunteers will be trained to help them do so. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - The elderly will start receiving their Covid-19 vaccinations earlier than expected from later this month, as the Government steps up its roll-out of the vaccine, said Education Minister Lawrence Wong.

Mr Wong, who co-chairs Singapore's Covid-19 multi-ministry task force, on Wednesday (Jan 13) said the elderly will get help to make bookings for the vaccine.

The Government had previously announced that seniors aged 70 and above would start getting jabs from February.

"Towards the end of the month, we will begin the programme for the elderly, where we will invite them to come to the nearest polyclinic, Public Health Preparedness Clinic (PHPC) or vaccination centre on a booking system," said Mr Wong after receiving his Pfizer-BioNTech jab at the Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital.

The booking system is required to avoid a wastage of vaccines, where the jabs are prepared but no one is there to receive them.

Mr Wong said letters will be sent out to inform the elderly of when they can make bookings for their vaccinations.

Volunteers will be trained to help seniors make online bookings, and information in different languages will be disseminated in HDB estates.

Mr Wong said: "This process will take a bit of time. So we will also step up our outreach and engagement efforts, particularly to the elderly across all our HDB estates, to let them know what this is about, give them more information in different languages, and also to help them with the booking because not everybody will be familiar with the IT system." 

After the elderly, vaccines will be progressively made available to other segments of the population here.

Mr Wong said this will be done in phases, and timed together with the arrival of vaccine shipments.

"We do expect a significant ramp up from now onwards, and once again, we would encourage everyone to step forward, be vaccinated when you are offered the chance to be vaccinated," he added.

Singapore's Covid-19 vaccination exercise began on Dec 30 with 40 healthcare workers at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases.

Since then, more front-line staff have received their jabs, including those working in the National University Health System (NUHS), Ren Ci Bukit Batok nursing home, as well as Home Team officers.

On Wednesday, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, the other co-chair of the Covid-19 multi-ministry task force, also received his vaccination.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the first Covid-19 vaccine that has been approved for use in Singapore, with vaccines by other pharmaceutical companies, Moderna and Sinovac, expected to arrive in the months ahead.

The Government is currently at work setting up Covid-19 vaccination centres that will allow a large number of people to be vaccinated daily, and vaccinations will also be given in polyclinics and general practitioner clinics.

Prior bookings will be required before people head down to the vaccination centres to receive their Covid-19 shot.