Seniors wanting to get vaccine early can register interest

Seniors aged 70 and above who want to get the Covid-19 vaccine early but have not received their letter of invitation can book an appointment by indicating their interest on the website vaccine.gov.sg

The site says: "Appointment slots are being progressively rolled out to seniors aged 70 years old and above. Please register your interest and we will notify you through SMS when you can make appointments online."

It adds: "If you are unable to submit this form but wish to proceed, please approach a community centre or call the MOH Covid-19 hotline on 1800-333-9999 for assistance."

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced last Friday that mass vaccination for the elderly will start from next Monday, following a pilot scheme for seniors in Ang Mo Kio and Tanjong Pagar.

The Straits Times understands that letters are being sent out in batches to invite the elderly to get the vaccine. They can call the Ministry of Health's Covid-19 hotline to check if their letter has been mailed out.

Seniors who indicate their interest on the official vaccine webpage will receive an SMS on their mobile phone with a link that allows them to book an appointment. They will first have to fill in information such as date of birth and NRIC number.

They can then choose from 22 clinics, 20 polyclinics or 11 vaccination centres, some of which are at community centres. All are equipped to treat anyone who reacts severely to the vaccine.

Dr Jeffrey Loh of Lian Clinic in Marsiling said he has not encountered any severe reactions among patients since he started administering the jabs in end-January.

But should there be such a case, the clinic will call for an ambulance. Dr Loh said the clinic is equipped to sustain the patient until the ambulance arrives, such as administering medication intravenously, "which is faster".

His clinic has 15 vaccination slots a day, but he plans to ask for more slots as it has the capability to administer more injections. After the jabs, patients are seated in front of the dispensary for 30 minutes so they can be monitored.

People will have to book two dates that are 21 to 28 days apart as two injections are needed for maximum protection.

Singapore has approved the use of vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Both have been shown to be about 95 per cent effective against the coronavirus that causes Covid-19.

The two Pfizer-BioNTech doses should be given three weeks apart, while the second Moderna injection is given 28 days after the first. Experts have said that a few days of delay will not reduce the efficacy of the vaccines.

So far, about 250,000 people have received at least one jab, while 55,000 - including President Halimah Yacob and PM Lee - have received both doses.

Madam Halimah, who got her second jab yesterday, urged people, especially seniors, to get vaccinated when their turn comes as that would reduce the spread of the virus in the community.

The vaccine is free for everyone here, and the vaccination exercise for the entire eligible population is expected to be completed by September.

The vaccines have been approved for use only in people aged 16 years and older.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 19, 2021, with the headline 'Seniors wanting to get vaccine early can register interest'. Subscribe