First Covid-19 vaccine shots to be given to NCID healthcare workers on Wednesday

A healthcare worker receiving his vaccination in the Day Treatment Centre at NCID on Dec 30, 2020.
A healthcare worker receiving his vaccination in the Day Treatment Centre at NCID on Dec 30, 2020.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - Healthcare workers will be the first here to get vaccinated against Covid-19, as Singapore's exercise begins on Wednesday (Dec 30) at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases.

More healthcare institutions will follow in the coming weeks, with public healthcare institutions and private hospitals to progressively arrange for their staff to be vaccinated within their premises.

Elderly persons aged 70 years old and above will get the vaccine shots from next February. Other Singaporeans and long-term residents who are medically eligible for vaccination will be next in line, with more details to be shared at a later date.

The Ministry of Health announced on Sunday that its expert committee's recommendations on the Covid-19 vaccination strategy for Singapore, which are specific to the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, were accepted in full.

The committee had recommended that persons at high risk of being infected, including healthcare workers and front-line workers, should be given first priority for vaccination.

The Republic received its first shipment of vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech on Dec 21, with subsequent stocks expected to arrive in batches over several months.

Singapore is the first country in Asia to obtain the vaccine, which has been administered in other countries such as Britain, Canada and the United States.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been authorised by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA), and the expert committee has endorsed its use in Singapore for individuals aged 16 years old and above.

The vaccine has demonstrated a high efficacy of 95 per cent and its safety profile is consistent with high standards set for other registered vaccines used in immunisation against other diseases, the committee noted.

While vaccination is not a silver bullet which can end the pandemic immediately, it is a key enabler to getting Singapore back to a safer state of affairs, the MOH has said.

It will complement the likes of safe management measures, testing and contact tracing, to help Singapore mitigate the spread of the virus and keep community transmission low.

In its statement on Sunday, MOH noted that comprehensive vaccination coverage in the population will indirectly protect those who cannot be inoculated due to medical reasons.

Singapore received its first shipment of vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech on Dec 21, 2020. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION

In the longer term, wider vaccination among the community will also enable Singapore to reopen further as a society and as an economy, and expedite its recovery from the pandemic.

Vaccination will be offered on a free and voluntary basis for all Singaporeans and long-term residents, who are likely to be able to get vaccinated by end-2021 if there are no unforeseen disruptions to vaccine shipments.

The expert committee has said that it will make further recommendations on other groups to be prioritised for vaccination, such as those who live or work in settings where there is potential for rapid transmission and large outbreaks, as more vaccines become available.