SINGAPORE - Mobile vaccination teams sent to about 70 locations, from void decks to community clubs, have helped 4,900 people, including 3,340 seniors, get inoculated since last month.
But with about 150,000 seniors aged 60 and above still to get their first Covid-19 shots, the authorities are taking a page from Singapore's kampung days and sending out trucks armed with loudspeakers to spread the vaccination message in the heartland.
Two #IGotMyShot trucks, which started making their rounds on Friday (Aug 6), will ply the same areas as the mobile vaccination teams, broadcasting pre-recorded messages in the four official languages and selected dialects.
"If you see an #IGotMyShot publicity truck in your neighbourhood, this means that a mobile vaccination team is just around the corner," said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung on Saturday.
He said such means were used in the past to raise awareness of key government programmes, including mass vaccination for smallpox in 1959, which he said was "a hard-won battle".
"I know it may disturb some residents, but I seek your understanding," he said. "The trucks will spread the message of vaccination to seniors who may not read the papers, use social media or talk to friends and family members very much."
Three of the five people here who died of Covid-19 complications this month were unvaccinated seniors, including an 80-year-old woman who died on Saturday. The others were both men, aged 63 and 79. In all, 42 people have died of complications due to the coronavirus.
As Singapore prepares to relax Covid-19 measures, lift border restrictions and treat the virus as endemic, vaccination has been held up as the key to reining in infections and deaths, especially against the Delta variant.
The proportion of people aged 60 to 69 who have received at least one vaccine dose has risen from 84 per cent a month ago to 89 per cent.
Progress has also been made for those above 70, with vaccine coverage for this group increasing from 74 per cent a month ago to 82 per cent, said Mr Ong at a press conference on Friday by the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19.
He also revealed a four-step road map for Singapore's reopening.
"We will continue to make a big push to vaccinate our seniors," Mr Ong said.
Besides the mobile vaccination teams, there are 11 home vaccination teams that visit seniors to give them the jabs. They have vaccinated about 1,200 seniors who are unable to leave their homes.
Healthcare providers and doctors said some seniors may not be vaccinated because of mobility challenges. Others are not sure if they are medically eligible or are concerned about side effects.
Sata CommHealth, which runs two mobile vaccination teams, said some seniors are worried about medical expenses should they be hospitalised.
Madam Chan Yuen Hou, 86, who has a diabetic foot ulcer, received her first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine last Wednesday at the Teck Ghee Vista Residents' Network in Ang Mo Kio.
Her son, Mr Patrick Oh, 60, took her there after he became worried when the number of Covid-19 cases in a cluster linked to Jurong Fishery Port exceeded 1,000.
He said: "My mum may not go out often, but I interact with many people as a hawker."
Seniors can walk into any mobile vaccination site, the 26 vaccination centres offering the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, or the 11 that provide the Moderna shot.
Those who need home vaccination can contact the Silver Generation Office on 1800-650-6060.
- Additional reporting by Tay Hong Yi