SINGAPORE - More seniors are coming forward to be vaccinated, with about 1,000 people aged 70 and above signing up each day.
However, more than 96,000 – or 21 per cent of those in this cohort – have not booked a vaccination appointment, Senior Minister of State for Health Janil Puthucheary said on Monday (Aug 2). This is six percentage points higher than the general population, he added.
“We have to continue encouraging our seniors to get vaccinated because they are the most vulnerable to serious illness,” he added.
Giving an update on the nationwide vaccination drive, Dr Janil told Parliament that 61 per cent of the population have completed the full two-dose vaccination regimen as at Saturday (July 31).
Steady progress is also being made with seniors, he noted, with 79 per cent of those aged 70 and above having received at least one dose and about 1,000 seniors signing up each day.
Staff and volunteers from the People's Association and Silver Generation Office have intensified outreach efforts, with mobile vaccination teams starting work in towns with a higher proportion of seniors.
"We will continue to reach out to as many seniors as possible and encourage them to get vaccinated," Dr Janil said.
He was replying to Workers' Party MP Gerald Giam (Aljunied GRC), who had asked about vaccine hesitancy among older people and efforts made to counter misinformation.
Dr Janil said the Ministry of Health is pushing back against vaccine misinformation by putting out infographics, but stressed that combating this problem involves the whole of society.
Mr Giam also asked about individuals who were prevented from taking their second dose of the vaccine due to allergies, as well as the progress of bringing in the protein-based Novavax vaccine.
In response, Dr Janil said those who have received either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna mRNA vaccines, but are unable to take a second dose due to allergic reactions, have been invited to take the Sinovac vaccine instead.
His ministry has set up a programme for them to be vaccinated at public hospitals for closer monitoring. These individuals will be considered fully vaccinated after taking the Sinovac vaccine.
People who are allergic to the mRNA vaccines may also choose to wait for the Novavax vaccine, which is expected to arrive by the end of the year.
Dr Janil said his ministry and the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) are working with Novavax to facilitate its regulatory submissions.
"The review timeline will depend on the availability and submission of data by the company to HSA," he said.
"While we recognise the need to facilitate timely access to the vaccine, there should be no compromise on the scientific rigour of the assessment of (its) quality, safety, and efficacy."
Dr Janil added that the HSA is in the middle of a "thorough and careful review" of vaccine data from China's Sinovac, to see if the vaccine can be included in the nationwide vaccination programme.
It received this data on July 5 and expects to complete its evaluation before the end of August.