Vaccination centres busier this week as more aged 50 and above go for booster shots

People getting their vaccination shots at Commonwealth joint testing and vaccination centre on June 25, 2022. ST PHOTO: SYAMIL SAPARI

SINGAPORE - More people aged 50 and above have gone for their first as well as their second Covid-19 booster shots, as vaccination centres saw higher footfall this week than in previous weeks.

Parkway Shenton, which runs a vaccination centre in Hong Kah, said about 30 per cent more people turned up at the centre this week compared with the week before.

On Saturday (June 25), when operations ended at 1pm, more than 120 people had taken their booster shots at Commonwealth joint testing and vaccination centre (JTVC), a higher than usual number compared with recent weeks.

The centre also said footfall for this week is double that of last week, although it declined to provide exact figures.

The higher numbers come as people aged 50 to 59 were from June 10 added to the older age groups that are being offered a second booster.

There are also 80,000 people aged 60 and older who have yet to take their first booster jabs, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung had said on Monday.

It was a busy first weekend for the new Bukit Merah JTVC, with seven to 10 people already waiting in line outside the centre in Lower Delta Road at 8.45am on Saturday, before the centre opened its doors at 9am.

By 10.30am, the centre had seen between 30 and 50 people. JTVCs are open till 1pm on Saturdays and 7pm on weekdays.

The Bukit Merah centre was one of five new JTVCs that started operations on Thursday, bringing the total number of such facilities to 10.

Kidney transplant patient Katherine Goh, 53, was among those who took their booster shots at Commonwealth JTVC on Saturday.

She was taking her fourth shot, but it is considered the first booster as those with weak immune systems require three shots for their primary vaccination course.

She said three weeks after getting her third jab in January this year, she caught the virus amid the Omicron wave. She tested positive for about three weeks, and also spent a night in hospital when she had chest tightness and breathing difficulties at one point.

Ms Goh, who is unemployed and lives with her husband in Bukit Timah, had two kidney transplants - one in 2001 and another in 2018.

"For me, vaccination is not encouraged, but a necessity."

People registering for their vaccination at Commonwealth joint testing and vaccination centre on June 25, 2022. ST PHOTO: SYAMIL SAPARI

Also at Commonwealth JTVC were Ms Ng Ai Choo, 59, and her 80-year-old mother, who were there to take their second booster shots.

Ms Ng wanted her mother, Madam Ng Leh Tien, further protected, because she goes for daily physiotherapy at Apex Rehab Centre in Bukit Merah View, and mingles with other seniors.

For seniors aged 80 and older, protection against severe disease from the virus with three doses is lower, and a second booster is needed to protect them further, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has said.

Ms Ng, a housewife, said she was spurred to get her fourth shot as she is wary that another Covid-19 wave may be on the horizon.

People getting their vaccination jabs at Bukit Merah joint testing and vaccination centre on June 25, 2022. ST PHOTO: SYAMIL SAPARI

Mr Ong had previously warned that Singapore is likely to see another Covid-19 wave in July or August this year. This will be driven by the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron sub-variants, which are more transmissible, but have not been linked to higher hospitalisation and deaths.

On Tuesday, MOH said these variants accounted for around 30 per cent of all virus cases in the past week.

As at June 22, 78 per cent of the total population have taken their booster shots.

Professor Teo Yik Ying, dean of the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health at the National University of Singapore, said: "It is my opinion that eventually, almost everyone in Singapore will be infected with Covid-19 at some point in their lives, and when that happens, we want to ensure the risk of severe disease and death is as low as possible."

Mr Karl Kleemeier, 58, was among those who took their second booster shots at Bukit Merah JTVC on Saturday.

The head of market data provider Argus Media's Singapore office has been diligent in getting his jabs when the opportunities came, because he knows how potent the virus can be, having been infected while in Saudi Arabia in May 2020.

"I was in hospital for two weeks. I had pneumonia, fever, night sweats, and I was on oxygen," he recalled.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.