S'pore's Covid-19 vaccination drive brought forward for seniors; extended to teachers, postmen, migrant workers

The ministry said that all seniors aged 60 to 69 will now get their invitation letters within the next few days.
The ministry said that all seniors aged 60 to 69 will now get their invitation letters within the next few days.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The nation's Covid-19 vaccination drive has been brought forward for all seniors, and will also be extended to more high-risk groups and essential workers, including teachers, postmen and migrant workers.

This is possible because more supplies of the vaccine have arrived, said the Health Ministry on Monday (March 8).

As at Sunday, more than 596,000 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine have been administered.

In total, about 379,000 individuals in Singapore have received at least the first dose; of whom more than 217,000 have received their second dose, the MOH said.

The ministry had earlier announced that seniors aged 60 to 69 would get their first dose around the end of March.

However, it said on Monday that all seniors in this age group will now get their invitation letters within the next few days.

Each letter will have a weblink which can be used to register for vaccination, after which an SMS with a unique booking link will be sent to the senior's mobile phone for them to book a vaccination appointment.

Seniors can also book their appointments for vaccination at any community centre or community club.

So far, over 55,000 seniors aged 70 and up have received their first dose of the vaccine, while another 96,000 seniors have made appointments to receive their first dose in the next few weeks.

The MOH also said that the vaccine programme will continue to be extended to other higher-risk groups, as well as essential front-line workers of critical importance to Singapore, including those who could pose risks to vulnerable populations and the community at large if they are infected.

Essential personnel in critical functions

So far, the Government has been offering vaccinations to personnel who provide essential services, including security agencies; those in the utilities industry such as water, energy and telecommunications service providers; and workers who ensure the supply of essential food and household items.

As more vaccine stocks arrive, however, this will be extended to essential personnel involved in other critical functions, such as postmen and delivery staff as well as news reporters and bank operation staff engaged in critical banking and financial systems operations.

Essential workers with higher risk of exposure and onward transmission

Vaccination had also earlier been offered to groups who are at higher risk of exposure, such as active taxi and private-hire car drivers who might have ferried infected passengers.

Going forward, vaccination will be extended to those who have multiple touch points with many members of the community.

These include those who work in hawker centres and markets, such as stallholders and stall assistants, as well as those who serve in the food delivery industry.

Singapore will also begin vaccinating educators and staff who come into prolonged contact with children and young people, starting with those working in pre-schools, national schools, the Institute of Technical Education and polytechnics.

This will be progressively extended to those working in other education institutions, said the MOH. 

“As the current vaccines are not yet certified for those below the age of 16, the vaccination for educators and adult staff will help to protect them and their students, and ensure that our schools and education institutions remain safe places for learning,” it said.

Eligible individuals will be informed of the vaccination schedule by the relevant government agencies and will receive a personalised SMS from the MOH notifying them to book their vaccination appointments at vaccine.gov.sg.

Covid-19 vaccination will be available at all vaccination centres and polyclinics, and selected Public Health Preparedness Clinics (PHPCs).

Migrant workers in dormitories

The MOH noted that migrant worker dormitories are another potential source of large Covid-19 clusters, which could then transmit the virus to the local community.

“Vaccination of migrant workers living in dormitories is thus part of our national Covid-19 vaccination strategy to protect all Singaporeans and long-term residents,” the ministry said.

Vaccination for these workers will start with 10,000 workers who have never been infected by Covid-19 and are living in the five largest dormitories.

This round of vaccination will be carried out within these dormitories.

Vaccination will then be progressively made available to other migrant workers.

Workers who have completed vaccination can have a lower frequency of testing, with testing occurring every 28 days instead of the current 14-day cycle, said the MOH.

Goods delivery workers

The MOH said that in order to minimise transmission risks from workers who engage in the supply of essential goods to Singapore, vaccination will be offered later this month to selected cargo drivers and accompanying personnel who enter Singapore from Malaysia on a regular basis.

“Vaccination will provide an additional layer of protection against Covid-19, ensuring that these personnel can continue to deliver essential goods to Singapore safely,” said the MOH.

Those who are eligible for vaccination will be notified via a personalised SMS from the Ministry of Trade and Industry and will be contacted subsequently for an appointment to undergo vaccination at designated sites in Singapore. 

The MOH clarified that those who are not vaccinated may continue to enter Singapore, subject to the prevailing infection control measures such as on-arrival testing and corresponding safe management measures.

Emphasising that provisions have been made to vaccinate everyone in Singapore, the MOH said it will continue to systematically extend the vaccination to other segments from April.

“While Covid-19 vaccination is voluntary, we strongly encourage Singaporeans and long-term residents who are medically eligible to come forward for vaccination when their turn comes. That is the only way we as a society can keep each other safe from the disease,” said the ministry.