Singapore will begin Covid-19 vaccinations for those aged 70 and above from next Wednesday, starting with pilot schemes in Ang Mo Kio and Tanjong Pagar, where larger numbers of seniors live.
Between 5,000 and 10,000 of them in each of the two housing estates will be invited to get vaccinated, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said yesterday.
"Depending on the response, we may increase or reduce the number. Soon after the pilot... we will begin to roll out to other areas, other precincts progressively," said Mr Gan, who is co-chair of the multi-ministry Covid-19 task force.
Singapore's nationwide vaccination effort kicked off on Dec 30 last year, with healthcare and other front-line workers.
The plan, as part of what Mr Gan called the "largest vaccination exercise in our history", is to have enough vaccines for all citizens and long-term residents by the third quarter of this year.
Seniors and other vulnerable groups are a priority given that they are at the greatest risk of being afflicted with severe com-plications should they contract Covid-19.
Two vaccination centres will be set up by Feb 1 at Teck Ghee and Tanjong Pagar community clubs.
But from Monday, seniors in the two areas will be able to book appointments to be vaccinated at polyclinics, Mr Gan said.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) said seniors will receive letters inviting them to book their slots. This can be done either online or at selected community centres near them. Volunteers, including those from the People's Association, will conduct house visits and tap existing grassroots events to answer queries and help seniors book appointments if necessary.
Those who need extra help can call the MOH hotline.
The two pilots will help the ministry iron out operational processes before it proceeds to scale up nationwide, with vaccinations to be progressively extended to all other seniors from the middle of next month.
MOH added that more vaccination centres will be set up over the next few weeks to ensure that all seniors can conveniently receive their vaccinations at a centre near where they live. These will be located in high population catchment areas or along public transport routes for greater accessibility.
Tender documents issued by MOH earlier this week revealed that it was seeking to appoint a vendor to set up 36 centres from next month.
Last week, Mr Gan said eight vaccination centres would be set up by the end of next month.