'Minimal wastage' of Covid-19 vaccine doses in Singapore: MOH

Take-up rates are carefully monitored through appointment bookings. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - There is "minimal wastage" of Covid-19 vaccine doses in Singapore as the vaccination programme is ramped up, with take-up rates carefully monitored through appointment bookings.

The monitoring enables advance planning of vaccine needs to facilitate shipment and delivery of an appropriate number of doses to vaccination sites, the Health Ministry was quoted as saying in a CNA report on Friday (March 26).

"Vaccination site providers also dilute and start a new vial only when they have checked that there are individuals awaiting vaccination, to avoid vaccine wastage," said MOH.

"Should there be additional doses of vaccine left, there are pre-planned lists of individuals who will be invited to be vaccinated.

"These could be staff who are working at the vaccination sites or front-line volunteers who have an active role in engaging seniors on vaccinations," MOH told CNA.

Demand for vaccines globally has been high, and Singapore has been running on a very tight vaccine supply situation, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong has said.

Currently, the Republic has two approved vaccines - Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. Both require two doses to complete the vaccination regimen.

Each vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine contains up to six doses, while each Moderna vial contains up to 10 doses.

For both vaccines, vials must be kept chilled and used within six hours after dilution. After six hours, any remaining vaccine should be discarded, said the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Infectious diseases expert Leong Hoe Nam said: "Since each vial contains more than one dose and you cannot keep it beyond a day, vaccines will have to be thrown away once it has exceeded its shelf life as there is a risk of lost efficacy and contamination."

"Vaccine wastage can be a result of poor planning, people not turning up for their appointment slots or forgetting that they have appointments. With worldwide supply of vaccines being so tight, each drop of the vaccine is very precious," Dr Leong added.

In some countries such as India, about 6.5 per cent of doses are wasted, according to its Health Ministry, making it vital for health workers to coordinate the flow of recipients.

Early this month, Japan said that an investigation would be launched after more than 1,000 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses had to be discarded when a freezer storing them malfunctioned.

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