Singapore — Any Singaporean wishing to travel abroad for personal reasons cannot be given priority in Covid-19 vaccines due to limited supply, according to Senior Minister of State for Health Janil Puthucheary.
Speaking in Parliament on Monday (Feb 1), Dr Janil noted: “We completely understand the anxiety of some Singaporeans who wish to travel overseas for personal reasons or would like to get vaccinated early.”
His statement was made in response to questions from several MPs, including Dr Lim Wee Kiak (PAP-Sembawang GRC) and Mr Yip Hon Weng (PAP-Yio Chu Kang SMC).
He said healthcare and frontline workers and seniors have to be prioritised given vaccine supplies are limited, according to a straitstimes.com report. “We are, therefore, unable to provide vaccines at this time to these Singaporeans outside of these groups and seek their understanding.”
Dr Janil highlighted that frontline healthcare workers, including swabbers employed by the Health Promotion Board, those in community care and Stay-Home Notice facilities and government quarantine facilities, as well as workers in security services, aviation and maritime sectors have priority in receiving the vaccine.
While advance purchase agreements with Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Sinovac have been processed and discussions with other pharmaceutical companies are ongoing, Dr Janil noted that the specific quantity of vaccines and their delivery schedules may not be disclosed due to the confidential nature of the agreements.
Furthermore, there is a delay in Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shipments due to an upgrade in a Pfizer manufacturing plant. He noted that supplies are being closely monitored to ensure Singapore’s target of vaccinating all Singaporeans and long-term residents by the end of 2021 would be met.
When asked if early vaccination would be permitted for Singaporeans who wish to go overseas for reasons such as studies or humanitarian purposes, Dr Janil responded that a national appointment booking system had been established to allow public members to register their interest in getting vaccinated.
He also noted that Singapore has made “good progress” in its vaccination initiative, with more than 155,000 individuals having received their first dose as at Sunday (Jan 31). /TISG
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