Seniors should wait for vaccination letters before registering: Gan Kim Yong

Those who need help booking their appointments can bring their letter to any community club or centre, where staff will be able to assist them.
Those who need help booking their appointments can bring their letter to any community club or centre, where staff will be able to assist them.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - Seniors who want to get vaccinated should wait for the letters inviting them to sign up, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong on Friday (Feb 19).

He urged patience, adding that the letters are now being sent out in batches, starting with areas where vaccination centres are already in operation.

"(People) don't need to worry," Mr Gan told reporters during a visit to a vaccination centre at Jalan Besar Community Club. "It will come, and if it doesn't come, we will contact them anyway."

After receiving their letters, people will be able to register for vaccination online. They will then get a text message with a unique Web link allowing them to book their appointment.

Those who need help booking their appointments can bring their letter to any community club or centre, where staff will be able to assist them.

The nationwide vaccination programme for seniors aged 70 and above will start on Monday (Feb 22), with Mr Gan announcing on Friday that vaccinations for people aged 60 to 69 will start around the end of March. The rest of the population is scheduled to follow suit in April.

In a statement, the Health Ministry (MOH) said Silver Generation Ambassadors and volunteers from the People's Association will conduct house visits and use grassroots events to answer queries and help seniors book appointments.

MOH will also work with other agencies to deploy mobile vaccination teams for seniors who have difficulty visiting vaccination sites due to mobility issues.

It urged people to ensure that their residential addresses are updated, as letters will be mailed out based on registered addresses.

Vaccinations for seniors started in Tanjong Pagar and Ang Mo Kio late last month under a pilot scheme.

Around 5,000 seniors living in those two areas have been vaccinated so far, Mr Gan said, urging more to get inoculated. "Probably because of the Chinese New Year festivities, some of them may have wanted to wait."

There are now 11 vaccination centres in operation, with three more in Bukit Timah, Marine Parade and Taman Jurong to be up and running by next Monday.

In total, Singapore will set up around 40 vaccination centres.

People can also get the jab at any of the 20 polyclinics or 22 public health preparedness clinics that serve as vaccination sites.

Asked how the Government would decide on the distribution of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, Education Minister Lawrence Wong, who was also at the event, said: "There will be centres that are distributing Pfizer; there will be centres with Moderna. So, the arrangements will be made."

He stressed that there is "not much to choose" between the two vaccines, which work in a similar way and have nearly identical efficacy rates.

Mr Wong, who co-chairs the task force tackling the pandemic with Mr Gan, added that the Government is doing everything it can to encourage people to get vaccinated, including getting people to share their experiences with their friends.

"Because there's nothing like someone who has been vaccinated, who has gone through the experience and says it's okay. And then they tell their friends, and then people follow suit."