Nursing home residents in Singapore start to receive Covid-19 vaccine

Ren Ci resident Abdul Majid Abdul Salam receiving the vaccine at the nursing home on Jan 20, 2021. PHOTO: REN CI HOSPITAL

SINGAPORE - A 95-year-old woman is among the first residents to receive their Covid-19 shots as nursing homes here start their vaccination programme.

She received her first dose of the vaccine this week, as her nursing home, LC Nursing Home, is one of six homes which have started inoculating residents against the Covid-19 virus.

The home said the resident is in good condition and has not suffered any adverse effects.

Said LC Nursing Home's director Tony Chia: "If our 95-year-old resident can be injected, it goes to show that the public doesn't have to worry about receiving the vaccination."

All six nursing homes received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for their residents, and the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) said they can choose to conduct their own vaccination exercises with trained nursing staff or opt for a mobile vaccination team to administer the vaccines to residents.

Nursing homes have emerged as a vulnerable sector during the pandemic, and clusters had formed at several homes last year, including the Lee Ah Mooi Old Age Home and the Orange Valley Nursing Home's branch in Simei.

Other nursing homes that have started vaccinating residents include the NTUC Health nursing homes in Chai Chee and Geylang East, and the Ren Ci Nursing Home in Bukit Batok Street 52, which was the first home to vaccinate residents on Jan 20.

LC Nursing Home has vaccinated 22 residents so far, and had taken precautions by having a doctor vet eligible patients throughout the process, said Dr Chia.

The residents and their guardians were also informed of the vaccination in order for them to give consent or choose to opt out, he added.

Dr Darren Chen, senior manager of clinical services at NTUC Health, said half the pool of eligible residents at its three homes in Chai Chee, Geylang East and Jurong West have given their consent to be vaccinated.

The chain's doctors and nurses have been reviewing the residents' medical records to assess their suitability, he said, adding that they look at factors such as whether the residents have drug or food allergies, or are receiving cancer treatment.

"For residents who are suitable to be vaccinated but are apprehensive or do not give their consent, they will be further engaged so they have the opportunity to reconsider," he said.

Vaccinated residents are monitored closely for 30 minutes after receiving the injection, and the home's nurses will keep a close watch on them and look out for signs of allergic reactions, Dr Chen added.

Nursing staff at NTUC Health's nursing home in Chai Chee vaccinating a resident on Jan 25, 2021. PHOTO: NTUC HEALTH

Around 100 residents will have received their first dose of the vaccine by the end of this month, he said.

Mr Lum Weng Kee, 72, is one of those who decided to consent to being vaccinated. He received his shot on Thursday (Jan 28) at the NTUC Health nursing home in Geylang East.

"I decided on my own to take the vaccine because I want to protect my family... I want to stay around longer and hopefully not 'go' so quickly," he said.

The AIC said it has been working with community care providers to progressively roll out the vaccinations, and will continue to do so in the coming weeks.

Another four homes are expected to start vaccinating residents in the next two weeks. There are 77 nursing homes in Singapore.

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