Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong (Gan) has said that politicians have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19 because they wanted to ensure that healthcare workers are prioritised. Further, Gan has said that ministers, senior civil servants and politicians did not want to be accused of jumping the gun or jumping the queue ahead of others in Singapore.
While Gan’s seemingly selfless statement is admirable, there is something to be said about leading by example if it is indeed the Government’s wish for everyone to be vaccinated. Gan, did after all, reiterate the Government’s position that it encouraged Singaporeans to be vaccinated.
There have been reports of some Singaporeans having jitters about taking the vaccination on the basis that it is, among other things, too new. There have also been a few unfortunate incidences of fake news being circulated about the vaccine. Despite the Government’s best attempts at debunking “fake news” and punishing its perpetrators, the best way to quash any rumours is for a leader to publicly take the vaccine on live television.
While the executive director of the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) Professor Leo Yee Sin has been vaccinated against COVID-19 to assure the public that the vaccination process is safe, this does not have the same clout as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (PM Lee) or the Minister for Health publicly taking the vaccination.
As an example, a televised vaccination such as this could be screened to reassure the public.
Given that our Ministers are no strangers to appearing on live television to talk about COVID-19 (think back to the weeklong of COVID-19 speeches various ministers made on prime time live TV before the general election of July 2020), why not have PM Lee and Gan have the vaccine on live TV? That would surely shut the conspiracy theorists up.
Giving credence to Gan’s reasoning about those in power not wanting to hoard all the vaccines, I am not suggesting that all politicians and ministers take the vaccine right now. All I am suggesting is for the leader of our Government, PM Lee and Gan, as the relevant Minister, in this case, Health, to take the lead.
As the saying goes – “lead by example”.
Singaporeans would feel a lot more assured about the safety of the vaccination if they saw their own Prime Minister take it.
This suggestion might be the best way to mitigate criticism against those in power hoarding the vaccines and fears of people that the vaccination is somehow not safe.