As the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage around the world, Singapore's vaccination programme is about to shift into high gear, with plans for new centres and roving teams that could potentially deliver more than 70,000 shots daily across the island.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) wants to appoint a vendor to set up 36 Covid-19 vaccination centres from next month, according to tender documents seen by The Straits Times.
These centres should be able to cater to at least 2,000 people a day.
The vendor will also set up 10 mobile teams to provide mass vaccinations for sites such as nursing homes.
The centres and the teams will be set up progressively and the number required is subject to change.
Vaccination sites could include vacant schools, community clubs and sports halls. The assigned vaccination centres will operate for up to 12 months.
With the nation aiming to complete Covid-19 vaccinations this year, appointed vendors will also have to make sure that vaccines are stored and handled properly, and that supply is sufficient.
This includes ensuring strict compliance with the cold chain management of the Covid-19 vaccines, which must be transported in a temperature-controlled environment every step of the way.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, for one thing, has to be stored at minus 70 deg C. It is the only one approved here to date.
The vendor must also coordinate vaccine delivery to ensure there are sufficient stocks, enough emergency supplies, and equipment on standby in case of adverse allergic reactions.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine can be kept at normal refrigeration temperature for just five days, once it is taken out of frozen storage. Two injections per person, given 21 days apart, are required.
Only the National Appointment System should be used for appointments and the updating of vaccination records.
MOH tender: What is required of Covid-19 vaccination centres and roving teams
Estimated number: 36
Capacity: At least 2,000 a day
Manpower: Staff at each centre should be able to manage a minimum capacity of 1,000 a day, with the vendor ready to ramp up manpower within 24 hours' notice
Possible locations: Vacant schools, community clubs, sports halls
Operating hours: 8am to 10pm daily, including weekends and public holidays, unless otherwise instructed
MOBILE VACCINATION TEAMS
Estimated number: 10
Manpower: Each team will have one doctor, four nurses and three administrative staff
Deployed to: Nursing homes, among other sites
Operating hours: 8am to 6pm daily, including weekends and public holidays, unless otherwise instructed
MOH said in its tender that the appointed vendor will form part of its panel of Covid-19 vaccination resources. Other vendors or in-house resources may be sought to administer vaccines.
The new tender comes as vaccinations are well under way in Singapore, with thousands of shots given at healthcare institutions such as hospitals and nursing homes among other locations. They will also be given at polyclinics and general practitioner clinics.
Barring any unforeseen disruptions to shipments, MOH said it is making provisions for all Singaporeans and long-term residents to be able to get vaccinated by the third quarter of this year.
People will not be able to choose which company's vaccine they want, but will be able to know which vaccine they have received.
At least three vaccination centres are operational at Changi Airport Terminal 4, Raffles City Convention Centre and the former Hong Kah Secondary School.
It was announced that the centre at Woodlands Galaxy Community Club will also be ready to start operations this week.
When asked, private healthcare organisations Raffles Medical Group and Parkway Pantai did not comment on whether they will be bidding for the tender.
However, Dr Kenneth Wu, Raffles Medical's deputy managing director, said the group is ready to activate its doctors and nurses to support vaccination efforts.
Dr Prem Kumar Nair, chief executive for the Singapore operations division at Parkway Pantai, also said that the group "will do what we can" to contribute to the vaccination efforts.
MOH has said other centres will be rolled out as the vaccine shipments arrive. Singapore is expecting more Covid-19 vaccine deliveries in the next few months, including from American biotechnology firm Moderna and China's Sinovac. The Sinovac vaccine has yet to be approved, while the Moderna vaccine, which has a similar efficacy rate as Pfizer's, is under review.
The tender closes tomorrow.