Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong received his first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine today and urged others to take the jabs in a country that has largely brought the pandemic under control.
The government has said its studies show nearly 60 per cent of residents are willing to be vaccinated. But the plans have stirred rare hesitancy among some due to the low risk of infection in the island nation and concern about any possible side effects from rapidly developed vaccines.
As an incentive measure, Education Minister Lawrence Wong said there will be “tangible benefits” for those who choose to take the COVID-19 vaccine, while individuals who choose not to get the vaccine shots may need to go through more frequent testing and “additional requirements”.
Singapore has only approved Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine so far, the first nation in Asia to do so, but has said it has secured enough doses for its 5.7 million population including from other vaccine-makers like Moderna and Sinovac.
The city-state did some initial vaccinations of frontline workers at the end of December. But Lee said broader vaccinations of healthcare staff would start now, with the elderly to follow next month, and vaccines to be available to all residents by year's end at the latest.