The Ministry of Health on Thursday said that as of January 27, more than 113,000 individuals had received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Additionally, more than 50 people have received their second dose of the vaccine and completed the full vaccination regimen.
The first day of COVID-19 vaccination for seniors aged 70 years old and above commenced on January 27 with two pilots at the Ang Mo Kio and Tanjong Pagar towns, with more than 250 seniors vaccinated on the first day, said MOH.
“Sign-ups for COVID-19 vaccination by seniors in the community have been encouraging. We expect more seniors to sign up in the coming days as letters are progressively being sent to invite them to book an appointment for their vaccination,” the ministry added.
“As of 27 January, we have sent personalised letters to more than 10,000 seniors in Ang Mo Kio and Tanjong Pagar, and more than one third of them have booked their appointments within two days of receiving the invitation”.
The ministry is also planning to send personalised letters inviting seniors to sign up for their vaccination across Singapore starting from mid-February.
The government is also planning to set up more vaccination centres over the next few weeks “to ensure that everyone can conveniently receive their vaccinations”. The vaccination centres will be located in high population catchment areas and/or along major public transport routes for greater accessibility.
In total, there will be around 40 vaccination centres, with each vaccination centre planned for an estimated capacity of 2,000 vaccinations per day. To support the start of vaccination for seniors, MOH has set up a new vaccination centre at Tanjong Pagar Community Centre from January 27, while Teck Ghee Community Centre will also be operational from February 1.
Besides the vaccination centres, the polyclinics and selected Public Health Preparedness Clinics (PHPCs) will also serve as vaccination sites.
“Currently, seniors can already be vaccinated at nine polyclinics and 21 PHPCs. Come 1 February 2021, all 20 polyclinics across Singapore will also begin offering COVID-19 vaccinations,” the ministry release said.
To reach out to seniors with mobility issues, MOH is planning to set up mobile vaccination teams to deliver the vaccines to these individuals.
Reactions to vaccine
The MOH said that out of the over 113,000 people vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, 432 adverse event reports have been received by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) as of January 27.
“Most of these reports were for regular symptoms such as injection site pain and swelling, fever, headache, fatigue, body aches, giddiness, nausea and allergic reactions (such as itch, rash, swelling of eyes/lip). These symptoms are reactions generally associated with all vaccinations and they generally resolved on their own within a few days,” the ministry said.
There were three reported cases of anaphylaxis (rapid onset of severe allergic reactions).
“The individuals, in their 20s and 30s, developed multiple symptoms such as rash, breathlessness, lip swelling, throat tightness and giddiness. All three individuals had a history of allergies, including allergic rhinitis and food allergy such as to shellfish, but none had a history of anaphylaxis which would have precluded them from receiving the vaccine”, MOH said. “As all vaccinated persons in Singapore are closely monitored, the symptoms in these three individuals were promptly detected and treated. All have recovered from the episode and were discharged from the hospital after a day’s observation or treatment”.
As per the MOH, the incidence rate of anaphylaxis locally is currently about 2.7 per 100,000 doses administered.
“Anaphylaxis is a known but rare side effect of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. As with all vaccines, there will always be a small proportion of susceptible persons who experience severe allergic reactions upon vaccination. We have put in place precautionary measures such as pre-vaccination screening and post-vaccination observation, to ensure that our vaccination programme can be carried out safely,” said Associate Professor Kenneth Mak, Director of Medical Services at MOH. “Vaccination remains safe for those who are eligible, and I encourage all Singaporeans and long-term residents to be vaccinated when your turn comes.”