MOH tweaks processes to cut waiting times for Covid-19 jabs

Measures have been put in place to regulate the flow of individuals throughout the vaccination process at Changi Airport Terminal 4. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Processes are being streamlined to reduce waiting times and people are encouraged to book afternoon slots for Covid-19 jabs, as Singapore looks to dose 1.25 million people by the end of April.

More people tend to get vaccinated on weekday mornings and at polyclinics, the Health Ministry told The Straits Times.

"Those who want shorter waiting times should book appointments in the afternoons and at any of the 14 vaccination centres here," a spokesman said.

Some readers had told ST that they had to wait for two hours or more to get their jabs, and that some had been repeatedly asked the same questions by healthcare workers.

MOH said on Sunday (March 7) that in the past, those getting their Covid-19 shots would have to verify their personal information and medical history four times to ensure they were eligible and that the vaccine was given to the right individual.

This has now been cut to just twice - once at registration and again before getting vaccinated.

MOH stressed, though, that the safety of those receiving the vaccination remains the top priority.

People are also encouraged to come at their scheduled appointment time, the spokesman said.

For vaccination centres like Changi Airport Terminal 4, MOH works with agencies to coordinate the arrival time of different groups.

Measures including a sticker system have also been put in place to regulate the flow of individuals throughout the vaccination process there, making for a smoother experience.

The ministry said that the maximum queue time before registration at Changi Airport Terminal 4 is about 30 minutes during peak periods.

At other centres, people can expect to wait for an hour or less, it said.

Medical student Crystal Lee said her vaccination experience at Toa Payoh Polyclinic had been "fast and efficient".

The 25-year-old got her first shot on the afternoon of Feb 19, having booked a slot beforehand.

Ms Lee said she had to wait only around 15 minutes to get the jab. "There were about five people ahead of me but the wait wasn't too bad," she said.

Meanwhile, an 82-year-old retiree who only wanted to be known as Mr Koh said he encountered a queue of about 35 people when he arrived at 8.25am for his 8.30am appointment at Outram Polyclinic.

Despite this, he said the process was "very orderly".

Speaking in Mandarin, he said: "It was well organised, every step was very clear." Bottled water was also provided for free during his half-hour wait to see a nurse.

However, he said he was later advised to not get vaccinated due to a pre-existing medical condition.

Mr Koh said he did not recall being asked to declare this while registering online, although he was unsure whether this was due to a technical fault or his own error, as he was not familiar with the online booking system.

"It can be a bit difficult for seniors to use the computer system. They should make it a little more straightforward," he said.

Adding that the polyclinic staff were polite and professional while explaining the situation to him, he said: "I'm not upset. I feel that healthcare workers are just being thorough, and it's good that they ensure those who are not suitable for the jab don't get it."

Last Saturday, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, who is also an MP for East Coast GRC, posted on Facebook that the Bedok CC Covid-19 vaccination centre will be starting operations from Monday.

He wrote: "Do help our seniors get vaccinated, and I encourage you to do so when you are offered. By getting vaccinated, you are protecting not only yourself, but also your loved ones."

An additional 16 vaccination centres will be opened progressively over the next few weeks, bringing the total number of such centres here to 31 by the end of the month.

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