SINGAPORE - A programme to vaccinate about 80,000 land transport workers against Covid-19 began on Monday (Jan 25), as part of the national vaccination strategy.
Employees of bus and train operators, such as bus captains, were among the first batch of 12,000 workers offered the first dose of the vaccine.
In a statement released on Monday, the Land Transport Authority said that it will work with the Ministry of Health (MOH) and companies to progressively offer the Covid-19 vaccine to land transport workers.
It said that active taxi and private hire car (PHC) drivers will also be vaccinated, with vaccinations already offered to drivers involved in supporting stay-home notice ground operations.
A specific timeline for the vaccination programme is in the works, said Senior Minister of State for Transport and Foreign Affairs Chee Hong Tat during a visit to the vaccination centre at the former Hong Kah Secondary School.
"As we bring in more supplies of the vaccines and as we work out the arrangements with our transport companies - including our taxi companies, our PHC companies - we want to bring in as many people as possible," he said.
On whether transport workers who declined to be vaccinated will be redeployed to other roles, Mr Chee said that the vaccination will not be linked to the workers' deployment.
He added that the vaccination is offered to them as an added protection, and existing safety measures - such as the wearing of masks - will continue to remain in place.
Mr Chee also noted that the vaccination is not mandatory but urged those eligible for it to take the vaccine.
"This is ultimately about protecting yourself, protecting your family and also protecting everyone else in society," he said.
Bus captain Yap Kai Loon, who works for Tower Transit Singapore, was among those who received the first dose of the vaccine on Monday.
The 39-year-old said he had no qualms about taking the vaccine and that he did so to protect himself and his passengers.
Ms Reign Ng, 49, a SBS Transit bus captain, agreed.
"It is my social responsibility to the nation," she said.
The land transport workers will join those from other industries who have already taken the first dose of the vaccine since Singapore kicked off its Covid-19 vaccination drive on Dec 30 last year.
These include military personnel, Home Team officers, aviation workers and healthcare staff.
Vaccination for seniors aged 70 and above will start from Wednesday, with pilot programmes in Ang Mo Kio and Tanjong Pagar.
The MOH said last week that more than 60,000 people have received their first doses of the vaccine since the vaccination drive started.
Singapore plans to have enough vaccines for all citizens and long-term residents by the third quarter of this year.