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Vaccination drive brought forward for all seniors in S'pore

Covid-19 jabs will also be extended to more high-risk groups and essential workers

Timothy Goh on 09 Mar 2021

The Straits Times


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The nation's Covid-19 vaccination drive has been brought forward for all seniors, and will also be extended to more high-risk groups and essential workers, including teachers, reporters and migrant workers.


The programme can be accelerated because more supplies of the vaccine have arrived, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) yesterday.


Vaccines are seen as the crucial next step to fighting the pandemic, which continues to rage around the world.


Experts say that 70 per cent to 75 per cent of Singapore's population needs to be vaccinated in order to achieve herd immunity.


Thirty-one vaccination centres are expected to be opened here by the end of the month, and as at Sunday, more than 596,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered.


In total, about 379,000 individuals in Singapore have received at least the first dose. Of these, more than 217,000 have received their second dose, the MOH said.


The ministry had earlier announced that seniors aged 60 to 69 would get their first dose around the end of this month.


However, it said yesterday that all seniors in this age group will now get their invitation letters within the next few days.


So far, over 55,000 seniors aged 70 and up have received their first dose of the vaccine, while another 96,000 seniors have made appointments to receive their first dose in the next few weeks.


The vaccine programme will also be extended to other higher-risk groups and essential front-line workers, including those who could pose risks to vulnerable populations and the community at large if they are infected.


These include postal and delivery staff as well as reporters, and bank staff engaged in critical banking and financial systems operations.


Vaccination will also be extended to those who have multiple touch points with many members of the community, such as stallholders and stall assistants in hawker centres and markets, as well as food delivery workers.


Singapore will also begin vaccinating educators and staff who come into prolonged contact with young people, starting with those in pre-schools, national schools, the Institute of Technical Education and polytechnics. This will be progressively extended to those working in other education institutions, said the MOH.


"As the current vaccines are not yet certified for those below the age of 16, the vaccination for educators and adult staff will help to protect them and their students, and ensure that our schools and education institutions remain safe places for learning," it said.


The MOH noted that migrant worker dormitories are another potential source of large Covid-19 clusters, which could then transmit the virus to the local community.


Vaccination for these workers will start with 10,000 workers who have never been infected by Covid-19 and are staying in the five largest dormitories.


It will be done within these dormitories, before being progressively made available to other migrant workers.


Workers who have been vaccinated can be tested every 28 days instead of the current 14-day cycle, said the MOH.


The ministry added that in order to minimise transmission risks from workers who engage in the supply of essential goods to Singapore, vaccination will be offered later this month to selected cargo drivers and accompanying personnel who enter Singapore from Malaysia on a regular basis.


Emphasising that provisions have been made to vaccinate everyone in Singapore, the MOH said: "While Covid-19 vaccination is voluntary, we strongly encourage Singaporeans and long-term residents who are medically eligible to come forward for vaccination when their turn comes. That is the only way we as a society can keep each other safe from the disease."


Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.



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