Singapore on Wednesday began vaccinating healthcare workers against COVID-19 with Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and became the first Asian country to do so. More healthcare institutions will follow in the coming weeks, with public healthcare institutions and private hospitals to progressively arrange for their staff to be vaccinated within their premises, The Straits Times reported. Elderly persons aged 70 years old and above will get the vaccine shots from February.
Other Singaporeans and long-term residents who are medically eligible for vaccination will be next in line, according to the report.
The Health Ministry’s expert committee had recommended that persons at high risk of being infected, including healthcare workers and front-line workers, should be given priority for vaccination.
The committee’s recommendations have been accepted on the vaccination strategy.
Singapore received its first shipment of vaccines from Pfizer and BioNTech on December 21, with subsequent stocks expected to arrive in batches over several months.
Singapore is the first country in Asia to obtain the vaccine, which has been administered in other countries such as Britain, Canada and the US.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been authorised by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA), and the expert committee has endorsed its use in Singapore for individuals aged 16 years old and above.
The vaccine has demonstrated high efficacy of 95 per cent and its safety profile is consistent with high standards set for other registered vaccines used in immunisation against different diseases, the committee noted.
While vaccination is not a silver bullet that can end the pandemic immediately, it is a key enabler to getting Singapore back to a safer state of affairs, the Ministry of Health had said last Sunday.
It will complement the likes of safe management measures, testing and contact tracing, to help Singapore mitigate the spread of the virus and keep community transmission low.
The ministry noted that comprehensive vaccination coverage in the population will indirectly protect those who cannot be inoculated due to medical reasons.
In the longer term, wider vaccination among the community will also enable Singapore to reopen further as a society and as an economy and expedite its recovery from the pandemic.
Vaccination will be offered on a free and voluntary basis for all Singaporeans and long-term residents, who are likely to be able to get vaccinated by end-2021 if there are no unforeseen disruptions to vaccine shipments.
In all, 58,400 people have recovered from coronavirus, while 29 have died due to complications related to COVID-19 this year.