Health Minister Gan Kim Yong revealed on Monday (4 Jan) that Singapore residents will not be allowed to choose which COVID-19 vaccine to take, since allowing them to do so would “unnecessarily complicate the already complex vaccination programme.”
The Government announced late last year that it will be bringing COVID-19 vaccines to Singapore sometime this year. Revealing that vaccination will be free for all citizens, permanent residents and long-term residents, the Government encouraged all to take part in the non-mandatory immunisation scheme when vaccines become available.
Although the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the only vaccine that has been approved for use in the immediate term, Workers’ Party MP Louis Chua asked whether individuals will be given a choice of vaccines when more than one has been approved for use.
Mr Gan replied in Parliament: “The allocation of vaccines will largely be based on medical indications of the different vaccines and the suitability of the vaccine for the different population groups, as well as availability of the vaccines.”
Asserting that any approved vaccines will have to meet stringent safety and efficacy requirements, he added: “Allowing individuals to have choice of vaccines will unnecessarily complicate this already complex vaccination programme. Anyway, in the immediate term, only the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been approved for use. So there is no choice.”
In his ministerial statement, Mr Gan also confirmed that individuals will be issued vaccination cards after receiving the COVID-19 vaccination. He said:
“Every person who is vaccinated will receive a physical vaccination card, and this will remind them of their appointment to return for their second dose, indicate clearly which vaccine was administered, and provide brief post-vaccination advice.
“In addition, any person who is vaccinated will have their record updated in the National Immunisation Registry, and individuals will be able to check their vaccination status digitally.”
Calling on Singaporeans to get immunised when the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, Mr Gan also said: “While the COVID-19 vaccination will be voluntary, we strongly encourage everyone who is medically eligible to get vaccinated when the vaccine is offered to you. This will not only protect yourself, but also indirectly protect others who cannot be vaccinated due to medical reasons.
“This collective protection will be more effective the more people are vaccinated. In case of a fresh outbreak, with more people vaccinated we can keep the number of cases low, minimise the stress on the healthcare system, ensure that those who are ill get the treatment they need, and allow us to return to normalcy sooner.”
He added: “Some may feel that there is no urgency to get vaccinated given the current low number of community cases and the local situation is well under control. We must not be complacent or wait till an outbreak and then rush to be vaccinated.
“We have seen a few community cases in the last few days, which shows clearly that there are hidden cases among us. We are also seeing new variants that are more contagious. Any of these cases has a risk of sparking a major outbreak as we have seen in other countries.
“The best time to vaccinate is now. If people wait until an outbreak has happened to get themselves vaccinated, it will be too late, both to protect themselves and to prevent the outbreak in the first place.”