Singapore on Wednesday (30 December) conducted its first batch of vaccinations on over 30 healthcare workers at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID).
The Ministry of Health (MOH) today said that the NCID personnel comprise clinical, nursing, allied health, ancillary and administration staff.
Senior staff nurse Sarah Lim, 46, was the first healthcare worker to be vaccinated in the exercise today.
“Before the COVID-19 outbreak, she performed pre-screening, triage and carried out procedures such as blood-taking and ECG, and coordinated clinic operations at the Special Precaution Area at NCID’s Clinic J.
“With the COVID-19 outbreak, Sarah carries out screening for suspect COVID-19 cases at Clinic J,” said MOH.
Other NCID staff vaccinated today included Dr Kalisvar Marimuthu, a 43-year-old senior consultant who manages suspect and confirmed COVID-19 cases, and Mohamed Firdaus Bin Mohamed Salleh, 38, a senior staff nurse who works in the Intensive Care Unit at NCID.
“These NCID staff will return for the second dose of the vaccine 21 days later,” said MOH.
Healthcare workers such as the above and other frontline workers are prioritised in the COVID-19 vaccination programme in Singapore.
Persons vulnerable to severe disease and complications if they fall ill with COVID-19, including the elderly and persons with medical comorbidities, will also be prioritised for vaccination.
All Singaporeans and long-term residents in Singapore will be able to get vaccinated by end 2021, if there are no unforeseen disruptions to vaccine shipments, said MOH.
In a televised address on 14 December, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that while the committee of doctors and experts established by MOH recommended that Singapore’s “entire adult population should be vaccinated”, the committee also proposed that vaccinations should also be “voluntary”.
Vaccinations, said Mr Lee, will be “free for all Singaporeans and for all long-term residents who are currently” in the country.
“So I strongly encourage you to get vaccinated too, when the vaccine is offered to you. Because when you get yourself vaccinated, you are not just protecting yourself.
“You are also doing your part to protect others, especially your loved ones. The more of us are vaccinated, the harder it will be for the virus to spread, and the safer we will all be as a society,” he said.
“My colleagues and I, including the older ones, will be getting ourselves vaccinated early. This is to show you, especially seniors like me, that we believe the vaccines are safe,” Mr Lee assured.
Singapore’s first shipment of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines arrived at Changi Airport on 21 December, making the city-state the first country in Asia to bring in the said vaccine.
MOH in a statement on 14 December said that the Expert Committee on COVID-19 Vaccination has reviewed the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine’s safety and efficacy data for different population segments in Singapore.
It said that it has also been briefed by HSA on its full range of considerations in granting interim authorisation, and is thus satisfied with its safety and efficacy.
“The vaccine demonstrated a high vaccine efficacy of 95%, and its safety profile is consistent with the high standards set for other registered vaccines used in the immunisation against other diseases,” said MOH.
While the Ministry agrees with HSA’s recommendation for the suitability of its use in individuals aged 16 years and above in Singapore, “pregnant women, immunocompromised persons and those under the age of 16 should not receive the vaccine yet, until more data is available”.
HSA in a separate statement said that the data submitted by Pfizer-BioNTech on its vaccine “was robustly and thoroughly reviewed by HSA’s regulators, and international scientific standards were applied during the evaluation”.
“The vaccine was only granted interim authorisation after the data submitted by Pfizer-BioNTech was assessed by HSA to demonstrate that the vaccine meets the required safety, efficacy and quality standards, and that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the known risks,” said HSA.