113,000 working people remain unvaccinated, with only few medically ineligible for Covid-19 jab

From next year, unvaccinated people will need to test negative for Covid-19 before they can return to the workplace. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - About 113,000 working people remain unvaccinated, of whom only a small proportion are medically ineligible for the Covid-19 vaccination.

Around 14,000 of these unvaccinated workers are above the age of 60, who are at high risk of severe illness or death from Covid-19 infection.

These figures were released by the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on Saturday (Oct 23).

Earlier on Saturday, the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19 announced new measures to allow only fully vaccinated employees or those who have recovered from Covid-19 within the past 270 days to return to the workplace from next year.

Unvaccinated people will need to test negative for Covid-19 before they can return to the workplace. They will need to pay for these antigen rapid tests, which are valid for 24 hours.

MOH and MOM noted that as at Oct 17, 96 per cent of Singapore's workforce had been vaccinated and 70 per cent of firms had attained 100 per cent vaccination coverage for their employees.

They said: "There is a small minority of unvaccinated employees who are doctor-certified to be medically ineligible for mRNA Covid-19 vaccines.

"With the announcement that Sinovac-CoronaVac Covid-19 vaccine will be included in the national vaccination programme... most of these employees can get vaccinated with Sinovac and are strongly encouraged to visit an approved private clinic to do so as soon as possible."

Those employees who are medically ineligible for all the vaccines under the national vaccination programme, including Sinovac, are exempted from the workforce vaccination measures if they need to work on site, the ministries added.

The ministries also urged pregnant employees to be vaccinated as soon as possible.

"Unvaccinated pregnant women are at higher risk of complications and severe illness should they contract Covid-19," they said.

As at end-September, 20 per cent of unvaccinated pregnant women hospitalised with Covid-19 in Singapore required oxygen supplementation.

Meanwhile, 10 per cent needed the intensive care unit (ICU) or high dependency care.

But not a single vaccinated pregnant woman who contracted Covid-19 has needed oxygen or was sent to ICU, MOH and MOM said.

An updated advisory on Covid-19 vaccination at the workplace is available on the MOM website.

The advisory provides guidance on the work arrangement employers can take to manage unvaccinated employees who are unable to be physically present at the workplace.

"The tripartite partners also call upon employers who have not attained 100 per cent vaccine coverage for their employees, to encourage them to do so," MOM and MOH said.

Employers can check their company's vaccination rate at this website with CorpPass from 9am on Oct 25.

The ministries reminded firms that work from home remains the default working arrangement, including for vaccinated workers, during the stabilisation phase from Sept 27 to Nov 21.

"Employers must continue to ensure that all employees who are able to work from home continue to do so. Vaccinated employees who need to return to the workplace for ad-hoc reasons are strongly encouraged to take an Antigen Rapid Test and test negative before returning onsite," they said.

Firms should also continue to ensure safe management measures are properly implemented at the workplace, MOM said.

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