Recruits, NSmen to avoid strenuous activities for 2 weeks after Covid-19 jabs

92 per cent of the total Mindef and Singapore Armed Forces active population have received their first doses, with 84 per cent fully vaccinated. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

SINGAPORE - Recruits newly enlisted in Basic Military Training (BMT) and operationally ready national servicemen (NSmen) attending in-camp training (ICT) will not have to perform strenuous activities for two weeks after getting their first and second mRNA Covid-19 vaccine doses, the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) said on Thursday (July 15).

In response to queries from The Straits Times (ST), Mindef said that in line with the latest recommendation by the Ministry of Health (MOH), personnel have been "managed" to ensure they do not perform strenuous activities for at least a week after receiving their mRNA jabs.

Out of an "abundance of caution", this period will be doubled for new enlistees and NSmen - who are more likely to face a significant step-up in physical activity intensity due to their transition from civilian to military life, said Mindef.

Both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna shots used in Singapore's national inoculation drive are mRNA vaccines.

MOH's advisory earlier this month, aimed at the general population but in particular adolescents and younger men aged less than 30 years, followed news of a 16-year-old suffering a heart attack after a weightlifting session, six days after his first dose of an mRNA vaccine.

The Health Sciences Authority had also revealed on July 5 that as at June 30, out of 12 cases of inflammation of the heart muscle or its outer lining after an mRNA vaccine, seven were men aged below 30.

In a WhatsApp message disseminated by the National Service Affairs Department and seen by ST, NS commanders were urged to encourage their NSmen to schedule their vaccinations at the earliest instance, and to complete both jabs ahead of their ICT.

ST understands the message is legitimate.

The text said that should NSmen be vaccinated within a fortnight ahead of their ICT, they do not need to defer the training. But their participation should be managed accordingly, and unit commanders can opt to defer them if necessary.

The NS affairs department added that NSmen who face difficulties in fulfilling their annual fitness requirements - such as the individual physical proficiency test (IPPT) - due to vaccinations should approach commanders for advice.

"Commanders can be more permissive in granting waiver for IPPT defaulters due to post-vaccination measures," it said in the WhatsApp message.

On July 5, Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen said in response to a parliamentary question that 92 per cent of the total Mindef and Singapore Armed Forces active population have received their first doses, with 84 per cent fully vaccinated.

He had earlier said that 92 per cent would be fully vaccinated by mid-July, with jabs also offered to recruits ahead of their enlistment.

The vaccination rates do not include NSmen.

Singaporean men have to register for NS when they reach the age of 16½ years, and are obliged to serve up to age 40.

As at Tuesday, almost 80 per cent of Singapore's population aged 12 to 39 have received at least one dose, with more than 20 per cent completing the full regimen.

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