COVID-19 in Singapore: Vaccination Exercise in Singapore
On 14 December 2020, the first COVID-19 vaccine, developed by United States pharmaceutical company Pfizer and German biotechnology company BioNTech, was approved in Singapore. The first shipment of the vaccine later arrived in Singapore on 21 December 2020.
Healthcare workers were given first priority to the vaccine. National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) senior staff nurse Sarah Lim received the first dose ever administered in Singapore on 30 December 2020.
Total number of administered vaccinations in Singapore
As of 30 June 2021, a total of 5,485,548 COVID-19 vaccination doses were administered in Singapore. Of this figure, 3,376,297 people received at least their first dose, and 2,109,251 people received both doses.
Below is a breakdown of administered vaccinations by age group.
|Age group (years old)||12-39||40-44||45-59||60-69||70 and above||All age groups
|Received first dose||52%||76%||84%||85%||70%||59.2%|
|Completed second dose||18%||20%||73%||77%||65%||37%|
*As of 30 June 2021
Singapore aims to have two-thirds of its population fully vaccinated by 9 August 2021. In order to reach this target, it accelerated its vaccination programme from 26 June 2021 onwards, increasing the daily doses from 47,000 to 80,000.
Types of COVID-19 vaccines administered in Singapore
The vaccines that are currently available in Singapore are administered in two stages: a priming shot first, followed by a booster shot. Depending on which type is administered, the interval between both shots will vary. Below are detailed explanations of each type of vaccine administered in Singapore:
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is manufactured by Pfizer and BioNTech. First approved for use in Singapore on 14 December 2020, this vaccine has a high efficacy rate of 95% based on clinical trials performed on 40,000 people aged 16 years and older.
This vaccine is messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA)-based. This means that it is composed of genetic instructions that produce trace amounts of COVID-19’s spike proteins upon entering the body. The body will then produce antibodies that grant us immunity to the virus.
The interval between the first and second doses for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 21 days.
The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is manufactured by Cambridge biotechnology company Moderna TX, Inc. On 14 December 2020, Moderna confirmed a supply agreement with Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH).
On 3 February 2021, the Moderna vaccine was approved by the Health Sciences Authority of Singapore (HSA). It was noted to have a high efficacy rate of 94% based on a clinical trial conducted on 30,000 people in the United States. The first shipment of the Moderna vaccine was then delivered to Singapore on 17 February 2021.
Similar to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the Moderna vaccine is mRNA-based.
The interval between the first and second doses for the Moderna vaccine is 28 days.
The Cominarty COVID-19 vaccine is the official brand name of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
According to Scott Piergrossi, Brand Institute president of operations and communications, “the name is coined from Covid-19 immunity, and then embeds the mRNA in the middle, which is the platform technology, and as a whole the name is meant to evoke the word community.”
MOH released a statement stating that Singapore began receiving shipments of the Comirnaty vaccine on 23 June 2021. As the vaccine is the same as the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, it will be marked as Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty in official patient records.
Sinovac (special restrictions)
The Sinovac-CoronaVac COVID-19 vaccine, or the Sinovac vaccine for short, is manufactured by Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech Ltd. On 1 June 2021, the World Health Organisation (WHO) approved Sinovac for emergency use.
At a press conference, WHO chief Tedro Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed his confidence over the vaccine, stating that it was “found to be safe, effective, and quality-assured.”
Following WHO’s announcement, MOH announced that Sinovac could be administered in Singapore, but only through the Special Access Route (SAR). Under the SAR, 24 private healthcare institutions were first chosen to administer the Sinovac vaccine on 16 June 2021. 7 more healthcare institutions were added to the list on 2 July 2021.
As the Sinovac vaccine is not part of the national vaccine programme, its costs are not defrayed under the Vaccine Injury Financial Assistance Programme. The full list of 31 approved private healthcare institutions and their prices are listed in the table below:
|Name of healthcare institution||Address of healthcare institution||Contact
|Fees for one dose of Sinovac
|1 Medical Teck Ghee||Blk 410 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10 #01- 837 Teck Ghee Square S(560410)||6251 7030||20|
|Braddell Medical Clinic||Blk 124 Lorong 1 Toa Payoh #01-489 S(310124)||6253 6288||20|
|Chinatown Wellness Clinic||531 Upper Cross Street #02-02 Hong Lim Complex S(050531)||6226 7188||25|
|Chua Medical Clinic And Surgery Pte. Ltd.||Blk 642 Bukit Batok Central #01-52 S(650642)||9843 6958||25|
|Dedicare Medical Practice & Surgery @ Hougang||Blk 419 Hougang Avenue 8 #01-K1 S(530419)||6980 3066||18|
|Doctors for Life Medical||3 Pickering Street #01-02 Nankin Row S(048660)||6909 0527||25|
|Doctors Koo, Loh & Associates (Pte) Ltd||Blk 152 Yung Ho Rd #B1-03 S(610152)||6266 5939||25|
|EHA Clinic @ Jurong||Blk 492 Jurong West Street 41 #01-40 S(640492)||6566 0257||25|
|Elisa Koh Clinic & Surgery For Women||38 Irrawaddy Road #06-26/27 Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre S(329563)||6334 1696||10.70|
|HeartlandHealth (Bedok South)||Blk 18 Bedok South Road #01-69 S(460018)||6241 8812||20|
|HeartlandHealth (Bukit Batok)||Blk 164 Bukit Batok Street 11 #01-152 S(650164)||6873 2458||20|
|HeartlandHealth (Circuit Road)||Blk 88 Circuit Road #01-965 Macpherson Oasis S(370088)||6547 8840||20|
|HeartlandHealth (New Upper Changi Road)||Blk 59 New Upper Changi Road #01-1268 S(461059)||6445 3100||20|
|iCare Medical and Wellness Clinic||Blk 22 Havelock Road #01-701 S(160022)||6274 6858||25|
|Icon Cancer Centre Farrer Park||1 Farrer Park Station Road #09-13 to 20 Farrer Park Medical Centre S(217562)||6604 9919||25|
|Icon Cancer Centre Mount Alvernia||820 Thomson Road #05-03/04 Mount Alvernia Medical Centre A S(574623)||6252 2202||25|
|Icon Health Screening||10 Sinaran Drive #09-04 Novena Medical Center S(307506)||6970 5200||25|
|Integrated Wellness Clinic||8 Sinaran Drive #05-04 Novena Specialist Center S(307470)||6250 7623||25|
|Little Cross Family Clinic||Blk 929 Tampines St 91 #01-445 S(520929)||6544 0040||14|
|Mediview Clinic and Surgery||Blk 150 Toa Payoh Lorong 1 #01-999 S(310150)||6253 2351||25|
|Pinnacle Family Clinic (Pasir Ris)||Blk 571 Pasir Ris Street 53 #01-50 S(510571)||6243 7338||23.54|
|Pinnacle Family Clinic (Serangoon North)||Blk 518 Serangoon North Avenue 4 #B1-208 S(550518)||6219 3910||23.54|
|Pinnacle Family Clinic (Woodlands)||Blk 573 Woodlands Drive 16 #01-06 S(730573)||6760 1623||23.54|
|Pinnacle Family Clinic (Yew Tee)||Blk 790 Choa Chu Kang North 6 #01-238 S(680790)||6235 7893||23.54|
|Pulse Clinic Pte Ltd||Blk 38 Beo Crescent #01-32 The Beo Crescent S(160038)||6272 4145||25|
|Rophi Clinic||38 Irrawaddy Road #07-54/55 Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre S(329563)||6694 5698||21.40|
|Starmed Specialist Centre Pte Ltd||12 Farrer Park Station Road #01- 05/06/07/08/09 S(217565)||6322 6333||25|
|Thomson GP Clinic||2 Balestier Road #01-671 Balestier Hill Shopping Centre S(320002)||6933 8377||20|
|Thomson Wellth Clinic||290 Orchard Road #19-01 The Paragon S(238859)||6735 0300||20|
|Wee HealthFirst Medical Clinic||Blk 378 Clementi Avenue 5 #01-342 S(120378)||6777 5755||10|
|Yim Medical Centre (Admiralty MRT)||678 Woodlands Ave 6 #01-722 S(730678)||6893 9181||25|
*Prices are inclusive of consultation, administration, and 7% GST.
On 2 July 2021, the Government offered to administer Sinovac to some 3,600 people who had experienced allergic reactions to the mRNA vaccines used under the Vaccine Injury Financial Assistance Programme. These vaccinations will be performed free of charge.
Sinovac works differently from the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, utilising an inactivated virus instead of an mRNA. The inactivated virus is a dead virus sample that triggers a similar immune response to the other two vaccines, signalling the body to create antibodies.
The interval between the first and second doses for the Sinovac vaccine is 21 days.
How COVID-19 vaccinations are administered in Singapore
To set up appointments, one must first register their interest at https://www.vaccine.gov.sg/. Upon receiving a confirmation text message enclosing a 10-character code from MOH, one can then book appointments for their first and second doses.
The minimum interval between the two doses is four weeks. This is down from the six to eight weeks stipulated on 19 May 2021. “This will ensure that more of our population can now be fully vaccinated earlier,” the ministry said in a press statement.
Those who had booked their second dose six to eight weeks after their first dose before the announcement are permitted to bring forward their appointment to just four weeks later.
Possible side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine
The COVID-19 vaccine is known to induce side effects, which are normal signs that the body is building immunity to the virus. Below is a list of MOH’s identified side effects and how to manage them:
|Side Effects||How to Manage|
|Injection site: Pain, inflammation, and swelling||Fever: Stay at home until the fever calms down.
Pain management: Take 1 to 2 paracetamol tablets every 6 hours where necessary.
|Fever and chills|
|Headache, muscle aches, and joint pain|
|Tiredness or fatigue||Bed rest|
|Lymph node swelling at neck and/or arms||Will naturally subside in 1 or 2 weeks|
Under rare circumstances, the vaccine may trigger an allergic reaction. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include:
- Breathing difficulties
- Swelling of the face, throat, eyes, or lips
- Erratic heartbeat
- Dizziness and fatigue
- Rash that covers the whole body
When an allergic reaction is observed in a person, he or she is not to follow up with the second dose. Instead, they should first seek medical attention. Thereafter, they may submit an application to take the Sinovac vaccine under the Vaccine Injury Financial Assistance Programme.26
Key milestones of the COVID-19 vaccination exercise in Singapore
Vaccination exercise begins for healthcare and frontline workers
Singapore’s vaccination exercise officially began on 30 December 2020. Senior staff nurse Sarah Lim, 46, of the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) was the first person to receive the vaccination. 39 other healthcare workers from the NCID also received their vaccinations on the same day.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong describes the beginning of the vaccination exercise in Singapore as a significant milestone in Singapore’s efforts to combat the virus:
"Today we began COVID-19 vaccinations, with 30+ healthcare workers at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases. It marks a new chapter in our fight against the pandemic."
This first round of vaccinations also posited Singapore as the first country in Asia to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to its citizens.
Consequently, the rest of the NCID staff and other National Healthcare Group frontline workers were given the vaccine.
Vaccination exercise extended to land transport workers
Starting from 25 January 2021, the vaccination was administered to 80,000 land transport workers. Bus and train operator employees formed the first batch of 12,000 workers whom the first dose was administered to.
Later on 23 February 2021, around 300 taxi and private-hire car drivers received their first jabs at the former Hong Kah Secondary School. By the end of the same week, the vaccination was offered to more than 50,000 other drivers.
Dr. Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Transport, believes that the vaccination is crucial for these drivers:
"Vaccination is another means to protect themselves, their families and their community. It will give them greater peace of mind, as well as give greater assurance to their commuters."
Pilot vaccination exercise begins for senior citizens
Although the Singapore Government initially aimed to begin administering the vaccine to the elderly aged 70 and above in February 2021, it later brought this date forward to 27 January 2021 as part of a pilot programme to speed up the country’s vaccination rate.
The pilot programme opened with invitations sent to 5,000 to 10,000 senior citizens from Ang Mo Kio and Tanjong Pagar to get vaccinated. Community vaccination centres were set up at Tanjong Pagar Community Club (CC) and Teck Ghee CC in Ang Mo Kio to facilitate the vaccination process.
The elderly received assistance to navigate the vaccination process, with volunteers trained to teach them how to make bookings online and help guides written in different languages. According to Lawrence Wong, co-chair of the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force,
“This process will take a bit of time. So we will also step up our outreach and engagement efforts, particularly to the elderly across all our HDB estates, to let them know what this is about, give them more information in different languages, and also to help them with the booking because not everybody will be familiar with the IT system.”
Vaccination exercise extended to all senior citizens
Following the positive response rate from the pilot programme, the Government proceeded to extend the vaccination to the rest of the elderly population on 22 February 2021.
By 8 March 2021, the first dose had been administered to more than 55,000 senior citizens, with at least 96,000 others having scheduled appointments to get their first dose.
Consequently, vaccination for senior citizens aged between 60 and 69 years was brought forward from end-March to 8 March 2021.
Vaccination exercise extended to younger age groups
By 23 March 2021, MOH recorded that a total of 1,109,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses had been doled out. Of this figure, more than 799,000 people have received at least the first dose, while at least 310,000 have completed the full vaccination regimen.
As a result, MOH made the decision to extend the vaccination programme to younger age groups, starting from people aged 45 to 59 years old.
Vaccination exercise progressively rolled out to students
Starting from 1 June 2021, MOH and the Ministry of Education (MOE) progressively administered the vaccine to over 400,000 students from schools and Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs).
Under this exercise, the HSA approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for students aged below 16 years old, while students aged 18 and above are allowed to choose between the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.
Singapore’s vaccination rate approaches 50%
After MOH rolled out the vaccine to the rest of Singapore’s population from 26 June 2021 onwards, Singapore fast-tracked its vaccination programme and was able to fully vaccinate 2.5 million people, or 45% of its total population.
As of 15 July 2021, at least 4 million people, or 75% of the total population, had received at least the first dose.
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