Simply put, because of the small number of infections in Singapore, some people do not see the urgency in getting the vaccine.
This makes Singapore different from other countries, where many are against the vaccines themselves, such as the United States where there are “anti-vaxxers.”
In some countries such as India, people are concerned about the risk in taking the vaccines, as there could be unwanted side effects.
Covid-19 infections in Singapore have been low ever since the vast majority of the infections, found in migrant workers’ dormitories, came under control.
In late 2020, there was even a time when new daily infections were down to single digits.
However, with travel restrictions relaxed, the number of cases has been rising, which experts say was not unexpected.
The majority of recent Covid-19 infections have been imported cases detected through strict testing methods while travellers were still serving Stay Home Notices.
Singapore also saw its first community cases within the past week after several weeks of no infections within the community.
Minister Lawrence Wong, who heads the multi-ministry task force assigned to tackle the pandemic, said that some of the people who are part of the new cluster of infections failed to seek medical attention even when they were symptomatic.
He urged Singaporeans to be more vigilant than ever and added that more measures may be needed to contain the rising number of infections.
Singapore’s vaccine drive
By late December, Singapore received vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and a vaccine drive went into full swing.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, Mr Wong, and other government leaders have all posted on social media about receiving their first vaccine doses, in an effort, perhaps, to encourage others and battle vaccine hesitancy.
SCMP noted that with amped-up efforts such as adding more vaccination centres, the country should be able to vaccinate everyone within half a year.
‘Wait and see’ when it comes to the vaccine
However, some Singaporeans seemed to have a “wait and see” attitude toward getting vaccinated.
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said in Parliament that nearly six out of 10 Singaporeans expressed a willingness to receive the vaccine doses, according to a survey conducted by the government.
One-third of the respondents, however, said they wanted to see more data before they decided to get the vaccine.
This may prove to be a problem, as seventy to ninety per cent of a population may need to be vaccinated before herd immunity is achieved.
SCMP added that even those in frontline work, such as nurses and other medical staff, have expressed vaccine hesitancy.
One public hospital nurse said that she was not “superbly keen” on the vaccine, partly because she wants to get pregnant, but also because she believes she can afford to “observe” how the situation turns out.
As for the country’s flagship carrier, Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung announced this week that Singapore Airlines could become the first fully-vaccinated international airline.
However, SCMP noted that only half of SIA workers qualified for the vaccine have actually signed up for it.
One man is even quoted in SCMP as saying he had said no when offered a chance to be vaccinated.
“The pandemic is under control and our health care system is well equipped enough for me not to worry too much about rushing for vaccination,” he said, but added that if he lived in Europe, he might “feel differently.”
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