Members of the public need to make prior bookings before making their way to vaccination centres to receive their COVID-19 jabs, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong in Parliament on Monday (4 January).
This is due to the cold-chain requirements at the vaccination sites and multi-dose vials of the vaccines, he said.
“It will also ensure efficiency and minimise individual wait times,” Mr Gan said, adding that more details on how to make the bookings will be revealed later.
Mr Gan also noted that the Government is simultaneously preparing clinics and vaccination centres for people to receive their vaccine shots when their turn comes.
Healthcare workers are receiving theirs within their healthcare institutions.
The Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine was the first COVID-19 vaccine to land in Singapore last month.
According to the company, once the vaccine is removed from the freezer, it can be stored up to five days at between 2 degrees Celsius and 8 degrees Celsius, and up to two hours at temperatures up to 30 degrees Celsius prior to use.
The vaccine must also be kept at ultra-low temperatures of about minus 70 degrees Celsius before being transported to distribution centres in specially designed cool boxes filled with dry ice.
Mr Gan also pointed out that the experts consulted by the Government have suggested that the country prioritises vaccinations for groups that are at the highest risk, in line with the guidance issued by the World Health Organisation.
As such, he went on to state that Singapore’s COVID-19 vaccination drive started off with healthcare workers and staff working in the healthcare sector given that they directly deal with patients or in supporting roles.
On 30 December last year, 40 staff members from the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) were the first to receive doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
The remaining NCID staff will slowly be vaccinated, and the rest of the National Healthcare Group management and staff will be given the vaccine doses this month.
Mr Gan added that other front-line and essential personnel such as swabbers hired by the Health Promotion Board and staff working at government quarantine facilities, community care facilities as well as dedicated stay-home notice facilities, will also be among the first to receive the vaccine.
From next month onwards, the Health Minister said that elderly and those at greater risk of severe diseases from the coronavirus will be vaccinated.
“Thereafter, we will progressively broaden our vaccinations to include other Singaporeans and long-term residents who are medically eligible,” he said.
Mr Gan also noted that as more vaccines are approved for use, Singapore will adjust its vaccination programme, based on vaccine supply and disease epidemiology.
He also told in Parliament that Singapore began preparing for the COVID-19 vaccination programme “very early on”, which include putting in place end-to-end processes to meet the cold-chain logistics requirements.
This includes delivery and receiving of the doses at the airport, storage and transport to vaccination sites so that the quality of the vaccines are not put at risk.