As the national vaccination drive against COVID-19 is all set to kick-start this Wednesday (27 January) for seniors, Members of Parliament (MPs) have been going door-to-door to visit residents in Ang Mo Kio and Tanjong Pagar to address their concerns on the vaccines as fear among seniors continue to persist.
MPs for Tanjong Pagar GRC Eric Chua and Joan Pereira, as well as Ang Mo Kio GRC MP Ng Ling Ling, were among those who made house visits to residents during the weekend.
COVID-19 vaccinations for seniors aged 70 and above will begin with residents living in Ang Mo Kio and Tanjong Pagar this Wednesday. Nearly 5,000 to 10,000 elderly individuals in each of the housing estates are set to receive letters informing them to book appointments at polyclinics.
The booking system is needed in order to avoid wastage such as when the jabs are prepared but no one is there to receive them.
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong announced last week that government officials will go door-to-door to explain the importance of taking COVID-19 vaccinations as well as help people make online bookings for the jabs. This method is a way to encourage the public to sign-up for the vaccinations.
He explained that this will be done as there have been some reservations among the people of Singapore towards the vaccine.
Education Minister Lawrence Wong also pointed out 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.
Mr Wong added 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 continued, “For those who choose not to take up, it’s your choice, but we will roll out and push out the vaccines regardless.”
Seniors worried about the side effects of the vaccine
Ever since COVID-19 vaccines have been given to people in the last few months to combat the spread of the coronavirus, multiple reports have emerged on the side effects of vaccines, including fatalities.
In Europe, recipients of the vaccine have experienced fever, headache, serious but treatable allergy reaction, as well as pain at the site of the injection.
To make it worse, Norway has reported deaths among elderly citizens with serious underlying health issues after given Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, indicating another side effect of the vaccine.
Given the concerns of the vaccine, older residents have voiced their reluctance towards getting the doses, The Straits Times (ST) reported.
One such resident at Ang Mo Kio, Alice Soh explained that she is worried that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is not “guaranteed” to protect people against the highly contagious virus.
“I read in the papers that it’s not 100 percent effective, and if there’s a chance I will still get (COVID-19), then what’s the point of getting the vaccine?” said Ms Soh, who is in her 60s.
When told that the vaccine has 95 percent efficacy, she said that she still needed time to think about it.
As for Bukit Merah resident, 85-year-old Tan Hock Guan, he expressed that he is undecided about the vaccine due to the possible side effects.
“My wife has already said she is not getting vaccinated,” he said in Mandarin.
However, retired teacher Jasmine Teo , 78, told that she will take the vaccine once it is made available to her.
“After reading what CVODI-19 patients go through, I want to take the vaccine and not worry so much about getting the virus,” she said.