As a way to encourage the public to sign-up for COVID-19 vaccinations, government officials will go door-to-door to explain the importance of taking the vaccinations as well as help people make online bookings for their jabs, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong earlier this week while speaking to the media on Singapore’s response to the coronavirus so far, a year after it was first detected in the country.
He explained that this will be done as there have been some reservations among the people of Singapore towards the vaccines.
However, he did not mention when the house visits will start.
Education Minister Lawrence Wong, who also attended the same media event on Tuesday (19 January), told reporters that if people refuse or do not book a slot for the vaccination when it is made available for them, they must then “accept the consequences” that if they change their minds in the future, a ready supply of vaccines may no longer be available for them.
Both the ministers co-chair the task force that was created to handle the pandemic in Singapore.
Mr Wong explained that the Government will not reserve a supply of vaccines for those who are undecided on whether to get the doses. Instead, the vaccines will be given to others at a “relatively fast clip”.
“We are not trying to hold back or ration the supply. Our interest is to get as many people vaccinated as soon as possible. Each time we get the supply (of vaccine doses), we will push them out, we will send out the invites to book (a vaccination slot),” Mr Wong was quoted in a report by TODAY.
He added, “For those who choose not to take up, it’s your choice, but we will roll out and push out the vaccines regardless.”
He went on to note that the Government is not planning to impose more restrictions for unvaccinated persons for now, given that some people are advised not to be given the doses due to medical reasons.
According to a public opinion tracker by online analytics firm YouGov — which analyses how people around the globe felt about vaccines between 17 November last year to 10 January this year — 47 per cent of Singaporeans were most likely to get themselves vaccinated, while 34 per cent were undecided and 19 per cent were not likely to take the jab.
When these figures were mentioned to Mr Gan, he agreed that there are still some aspects that remain unknown about the vaccines, which includes its long-term side effects.
However, he gave assurances that measures are put in place to keep track of the vaccines’ safety and provide updates to people.
“There is a lot of work for us to convince the rest who may be adopting a wait-and-see attitude, or those who just decide not to be vaccinated (at all),” Mr Gan said, adding that it may be too late if people decide to get the jab when infection numbers in Singapore have climbed.
If that’s not all, he also advised Singaporeans to not spread falsehoods about the vaccines and list to information from credible sources like the Ministry of Health (MOH) and reliable media outlets.
He also noted that while Singapore has obtained enough vaccines for all, the delivery shipment for these vaccines is not fixed.
“You know, we don’t receive 100,000 (vials) every week — it’s not a fixed schedule.”
He added that authorities will need to make sure that it has the stock to give people the second dose of the vaccine 21 days after their first jab.
Over on social media, the news of government officials wanting to go door-to-door to address concerns that people may have did not go down too well with the netizens.
Penning their thoughts on TODAY‘s Facebook page, online users said that the government sound like they are threatening the public by saying that the doses might not be readily available for them if they refuse or don’t book a slot when it is their turn to get the jab.
They added that the government initially said taking the vaccine is voluntary, however now it seems like they are threatening the public.
A number of them went on to point that the authorities are “fear-mongering” the people of Singapore.
A couple of users pointed out that they will take the jabs only if the government can guarantee that their medical expenses will be taken care off should they develop any side effects from the vaccine.
One user said that he is will only take the vaccine once everyone has done it and it is confirmed to be safe, adding that he doesn’t mind paying for it himself if he has to.
Others have voiced their reservations towards the vaccine, noting that it has been made in a rush.
As such, they said that they would not want to be the “guinea pigs” and that the government has a responsibility to ensure that the vaccine will not harm the citizens.