Perks for those vaccinated against Covid-19 not meant to be discriminatory: Ong Ye Kung

A wedding guest being swabbed ahead of a ceremony at Four Points by Sheraton Hotel. Vaccinated individuals will be exempt from requiring such pre-even testing. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Perks for Covid-19 vaccinated individuals, such as being exempt from pre-event testing for certain events, are not meant to be discriminatory.

Rather, this differentiation between the vaccinated and unvaccinated is necessary from a public health standpoint as Singapore moves towards creating a sense of normality with endemic Covid-19 as an end goal, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said in an exclusive interview with The Straits Times' senior health correspondent Salma Khalik on Thursday (July 1).

The authorities see this differentiation in terms of risk, whether someone has a higher or lower risk of getting infected and passing on the virus, Mr Ong said. He stressed that vaccination will not just protect the individual, but also the person's family and the whole of society.

When most have taken their jabs and everyone who wants to take the vaccine has received it, there will then be good justification for this group of vaccinated people to have some privileges, such as things that they can do in bigger groups, in closer settings, Mr Ong explained.

While details have yet to be fully ironed out, the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19 provided some examples of such perks in late June, such as overseas travel allowed without stay-home notice, as well as non-travel-related ones such as larger group gatherings.

Right now, those who are fully vaccinated are already exempt from pre-event testing for events such as live performances and wedding solemnisations. All participants and spectators for this year's National Day Parade will also have to be fully vaccinated.

However, there will be social aspects that need to be managed so that nobody feels excluded, such as for families with young children who cannot receive the vaccine yet, Mr Ong said.

"And so I think we would also need to think through these issues to see whether some dispensation is appropriate."

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