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Documentation of diphtheria and measles vaccination required for foreign-born children applying for long-term immigration passes

Foreign-born children will have to submit documentation of diphtheria and measles vaccination as a prerequisite for the application of long-term immigration passes in Singapore with effect from 1 February 2019, announced the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Thursday(18 October).

In a press release, MOH stressed that vaccination confers a person protection against infectious diseases, and is especially important for children as they are vulnerable to infection and can develop serious complications.

A high level of vaccination coverage in the population also provides protection to those too young to be vaccinated or who cannot be vaccinated due to medical conditions, and brings about herd immunity, thereby reducing the risk of community outbreaks, it added.

Diphtheria and measles are two highly contagious and serious diseases that are more easily acquired by children.

Vaccinations for these diseases were mandated by law under the Infectious Diseases Act (IDA) in 1977 and 1985 respectively.

According to the ministry, the uptake of the vaccinations by resident children cohorts has been consistently high.

However, it stated that the number who are not vaccinated against diphtheria and measles or whose vaccination status cannot be ascertained among foreign-born children has been increasing in recent years.

The ministry then stressed that it will require submission of documentation of diphtheria and measles vaccination as a prerequisite for foreign-born children applying for long-term immigration passes in Singapore to ensure high vaccination coverage among all children in Singapore.

MOH added that parents or guardians of children who are not due for the required vaccinations at the time of application will be required to follow up on the vaccinations after the child’s entry to Singapore and those who wish to seek an exemption due to medical reasons will be required to produce a doctor-certified document to HPB.

It noted that existing pass holders will not be subject to the requirements when renewing their pass or applying for a new pass.

The ministry will work with MOM and ICA to inform affected long-term immigration pass applicants of the national childhood vaccination requirements.

"We will also continue to strengthen education and outreach efforts on vaccination. Current measures include the provision of a health booklet at birth (for children born in Singapore) to highlight the vaccination schedule to parents, vaccination reminders from HPB to parents, and administrative checks by pre-schools and primary schools," MOH said.