Jump in Covid-19 community cases in Singapore sparks urgency to get vaccinated

Mr Sek Seng Huat, 84, getting jabbed at a mobile vaccination centre at Block 132 Lorong Ah Soo on Aug 6, 2021.
Mr Sek Seng Huat, 84, getting jabbed at a mobile vaccination centre at Block 132 Lorong Ah Soo on Aug 6, 2021.ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE - With markets and hawker centres added to the daily list of places visited by infectious Covid-19 patients, Ms Sek Ah Suan, 55, worried for her parents who have heart conditions.

Especially for her father, Mr Sek Seng Huat, 84, who would visit the Lorong Ah Soo market in Hougang weekly to buy groceries and the Prime supermarket nearby to buy Toto.

But Ms Sek, a medical social worker, decided only last month to vaccinate her parents after the spike in Covid-19 cases in the community. "Several seniors had fallen ill, entire HDB blocks were swabbed. If we waited until my father's appointment to see his heart specialist, we will be waiting until October."

Like Ms Sek, caregivers and seniors said that it was seeing more new Covid-19 cases daily that spurred them into action.

Retiree Stephen Wee, 70, was unsure if he could get the jab because he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer earlier this year.

When his radiation therapy ended a few days ago, he obtained his doctor's approval to get the jab.

Mr Wee, a resident at Block 129 Lorong Ah Soo, received his first dose of the vaccine on Friday morning at Block 132.

He said: "It's good to finally get jabbed. Because the cases have been rising and previously it felt like I was exposing myself (to the virus) while walking outside."

Ms Doreen Tan, 47, who accompanied her mother, Madam Koh Siang Wee, 78, to take the vaccine, was worried about the Delta variant and how virulent it was.

She visits multiple homes as she is a private tutor and was afraid of passing the virus to her mother, who has a history of diabetes and hypertension. Her doctor had said that given her condition, she would likely be admitted to the intensive care unit if she was infected with Covid-19.

Ms Tan said: "My mother may be stubborn, but with the death of seniors recently, I don't want that to happen to her."

Home and mobile health provider Jaga-Me, which runs three home vaccination teams, said one reason that seniors are not taking the vaccine could be their confusion over whether they are medically eligible.

Mr Julian Koo, Jaga-Me's chief executive, said: "As the government approves (people with) more conditions to take the vaccine safely, it can be hard for laypeople to keep up, especially seniors."

For instance, the Expert Committee on Covid-19 Vaccination on July 28 said severely immunocompromised people can now be vaccinated, after data showed it was safe for them to do so.