Mobile Covid-19 vaccination teams go to the heartland to get more seniors jabbed

Seniors aged 60 and above may walk into any of the existing vaccination centres with their identity card to receive their first dose of vaccination without any prior appointment.
Seniors aged 60 and above may walk into any of the existing vaccination centres with their identity card to receive their first dose of vaccination without any prior appointment.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Up to 10 mobile vaccination teams will be launched in heartland locations to make it more convenient for seniors to get their Covid-19 jabs, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Thursday (July 15).

This comes as the Government steps up efforts to get unvaccinated seniors protected.

"This is critical as seniors are the most vulnerable group and at higher risk of becoming dangerously ill if infected with Covid-19. With age and possibly underlying health conditions, their immune system is weaker," said MOH.

"Without vaccination, they may not be able to fight off the virus."

So far, seven in 10 seniors aged 70 and above have received at least one dose of the vaccination.

The mobile teams will be stationed for a few days to a week at locations near where many seniors live. These places include selected community clubs or centres (CCs) that are not already being used as vaccination centres, and residents' committee centres at residential blocks.

The same team will later return to each location, so that those who have received the first dose get their second dose at the same location, MOH said.

The first mobile vaccination team was deployed to Anchorvale CC from July 7 to 13 for the first dose. Two teams are currently deployed at Kallang and Whampoa CCs, from July 14 to July 20.

This is part of a broader push to drive up vaccination numbers among seniors in the heartland.

Seniors aged 60 and above may also walk into any of the existing vaccination centres with their identity card to receive their first dose of vaccination without any prior appointment.

They may also visit any polyclinic or a participating Public Health Preparedness Clinic (PHPC) to get jabbed.

More PHPCs will come under the national vaccination programme in the weeks to come. This will begin with clinics in Bedok, Bukit Merah, Hougang and Tampines.

Primary care providers such as general practitioners have also been urged to help persuade their elderly regular patients to get their Covid-19 vaccinations if they have not done so yet.

Staff and volunteers from the Silver Generation Office (SGO) will also reach out to unvaccinated seniors through house visits and help address their queries or concerns.

They will also provide advice on the nearest vaccination locations and assist those who require help in getting to the vaccination centres, or arrange for them to be vaccinated at home if they are homebound.

Homebound individuals can also directly request to receive their vaccination at home, by calling the SGO hotline on 1800-650-6060.

Madam Yang Choe Sun is one of those who have benefited from the home vaccination programme.

The housewife, 74, is bed-bound due to a bacterial infection that affected her ability to speak, swallow and move.


A home vaccination team from the Health Promotion Board preparing to visit a home-bound person to administer the Covid-19 vaccine jab. PHOTO: HEALTH PROMOTION BOARD

Unable to travel to a vaccination centre, she was referred by her doctor to the Agency for Integrated Care, which oversees the SGO and administers the home vaccination programme.

Her husband, retired taxi driver Chan Hui Teng, had been worried about her safety amid May’s surge in Covid-19 cases.

Mr Chan, 71, said he was thankful that his wife could be vaccinated even though she is bed-bound.

“I feel more assured for her safety, along with that of my family members.”

The new measures have come about because seniors need vaccination the most, yet have the lowest sign-up rate, at 71 per cent, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung on Thursday in a Facebook post.

The take-up rate across all age groups is more than 80 per cent, he added.

“The remainder gets harder and harder to reach.” Mr Ong said that this involved reaching out to seniors to clear their doubts and bringing vaccination closer to them.

Correction note: An earlier version of this story said that three in 10 seniors aged 70 and above have received at least one dose of the vaccination. It should have been seven in 10. We are sorry for the error.