Coronavirus Singapore

Vaccination starts for foreign domestic workers aged 39 and below

Covid-19 vaccination for foreign domestic workers aged 39 years old and below started yesterday.

This came as the vaccination drive for permanent residents and long-term pass holders between the ages of 12 and 39 was pushed forward from July 2 to yesterday, due to the steady take-up rate by Singapore citizens.

The number of registrations by Singaporeans in the same age range has also tapered off, making room for permanent residents and long-term pass holders to receive their jabs.

Getting her jab yesterday afternoon at Pasir Ris Elias Community Club was Ms Myo Ei Ei Tun, who received an SMS to register for a vaccination slot on Tuesday evening.

The foreign domestic helper said she arrived at the centre at 12.30pm, work permit in hand, and saw more than 20 foreign domestic workers in line to get their shots.

"My employer helped me register my interest for the vaccine about a month ago, and I received the SMS yesterday. I feel normal, just a bit of pain around the injection site," said Ms Ei Ei, 31, after getting her shot.

She said many of her peers had posted pictures of their arms on social media after inoculation yesterday.

As many foreign domestic workers look after the elderly who are vulnerable to severe illness from the coronavirus, or those ineligible for vaccination, getting the workers shielded against the virus is crucial, said experts.

Professor Teo Yik Ying, dean of the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health at the National University of Singapore, said foreign domestic workers interact with people within families and also move about in the community, and they should be given the same level of protection that Singaporeans have.

"This vaccination drive not only closes the weak link, but fulfils the promise that the Singapore Government made, that we will look after everyone in the country," he added.

Infectious diseases physician Ling Li Min noted that since mid-June, there have been reports of a few foreign domestic workers getting infected due to household transmission.

"Just as we vaccinated individuals who work in higher-risk areas, it would be timely to also start encouraging as many foreign domestic workers to get vaccinated," Dr Ling added.

As at Monday, more than 5.3 million doses of the vaccine had been administered in Singapore, and all eligible individuals can now get their second dose within four weeks of the first.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 01, 2021, with the headline 'Vaccination starts for foreign domestic workers aged 39 and below'. Subscribe