Nationwide vaccinations begin for seniors aged 70 and above

A couple, who wanted to be known only as Mr and Mrs Lim, getting their vaccination at Senja-Cashew Community Club yesterday. All seniors aged 70 and above will be able to get vaccinated by mid-March. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO
A couple, who wanted to be known only as Mr and Mrs Lim, getting their vaccination at Senja-Cashew Community Club yesterday. All seniors aged 70 and above will be able to get vaccinated by mid-March. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO
Mr Tan Toh Chuan (centre), 50, accompanying his parents Tan Kew Sing (right), 78, and Ng Sam Mui (left), 74, to get their injections at Senja-Cashew Community Club yesterday. Singapore now has 56 vaccination sites, which include 14 vaccination centre
Mr Tan Toh Chuan (centre), 50, accompanying his parents Tan Kew Sing (right), 78, and Ng Sam Mui (left), 74, to get their injections at Senja-Cashew Community Club yesterday. Singapore now has 56 vaccination sites, which include 14 vaccination centres in the heartland, 20 polyclinics and 22 Public Health Preparedness Clinics.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO
Seniors who have received their vaccinations sitting in the observation area in Senja-Cashew Community Club yesterday. Before they get vaccinated, seniors have to register and undergo a screening.
Seniors who have received their vaccinations sitting in the observation area in Senja-Cashew Community Club yesterday. Before they get vaccinated, seniors have to register and undergo a screening.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

Since receiving the smallpox vaccine as a boy, Mr Tan Hong San, 78, has been a strong believer in the importance of inoculation to prevent disease.

This is what prompted him to get his Covid-19 vaccine shot yesterday at Senja-Cashew Community Club (CC), after receiving a letter inviting him to sign up last week.

After getting the injection, his heart rate went up for a bit but returned to normal within a few minutes.

The retiree told the media: "I feel okay, normal. I wanted to take a vaccine now rather than later. It's our way of overcoming the pandemic."

Mr Tan, who has diabetes and high cholesterol, had consulted his family physician, who gave him the green light to take the jab.

Mr Tan was one of many seniors who were inoculated yesterday as Singapore began its nationwide vaccination programme for seniors aged 70 and above.

This phase in the inoculation drive comes after a pilot programme in Ang Mo Kio and Tanjong Pagar that saw more than 5,000 people in the same age range get vaccinated from Jan 27.

Seniors are at a higher risk of severe disease or complications from Covid-19 infection, and have been prioritised for vaccination.

With three more vaccination centres at community centres and community clubs in Bukit Timah, Marine Parade and Taman Jurong starting operations by yesterday, the total number of vaccination sites is now 56.

They include 14 vaccination centres in the heartland, 20 polyclinics and 22 Public Health Preparedness Clinics.

The vaccination centres are currently open from 9am to 5pm, and will progressively be open from 8am to 10pm.

There will eventually be around 40 vaccination centres, with each planned to administer about 2,000 jabs a day.

All seniors aged 70 and above will be able to receive their vaccination by mid-March. Vaccinations for those aged 60 to 69 will start from around the end of next month.

The vaccination centre in Senja-Cashew CC's sports hall is operated by Thomson Medical.

Some seniors who turned up at the CC yesterday had their vaccinations deferred until further notice because vaccination was not recommended for them at this time.

People with severely compromised immune systems or a history of anaphylaxis are not advised to take the Covid-19 vaccination.

Those who have untreated cancer, or are undergoing treatments such as chemotherapy, should defer their vaccinations as well.

Dr Lin Zhi Yong, the medical officer in charge of operations at the vaccination centre in Senja-Cashew CC, said some of those whose jabs were deferred had a history of severe drug allergies.

"We will advise these individuals to continue wearing their masks, practise good hand hygiene, and encourage those around them to get the vaccination done when their chance comes."

Before seniors get vaccinated, they have to register and undergo a screening, where healthcare workers at the registration counter will ask about their medical history and whether they are on blood-thinning medication, or if they have food or drug allergies.

"If some of them are unsure about their medical history, we can check the National Electronic Health Record. Some residents will bring their medical records, like their latest blood test reports and medication lists," Dr Lin added.

Those who received their jabs at the CC yesterday said they had no adverse reactions.

Cleaner Cheng Choon Kiang, 78, said: "I don't feel anything at all, normal. No pain, nothing. I don't feel feverish. It would be even better once I take the second jab, for full protection."

The coffee shop cleaner added that he plans to encourage his neighbours and co-workers to take the vaccine.

"I meet a lot of people at the coffee shop. I will tell them to come for the jab. I'll also show them (where I got injected)," he said, animatedly.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 23, 2021, with the headline 'Nationwide vaccinations begin for seniors aged 70 and above'. Subscribe